A New York-born historian known for her work on English culture during the Victorian era, she also published books and articles pertaining to contemporary intellectual history. Her scholarly works include The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values (1995) and Marriage and Morals Among the Victorians (1986).
She studied at Cambridge and went on to receive her doctorate in 1950 from the University of Chicago. She taught for many years at the City University of New York.
Her publications impressed Britain's former prime minister Gordon Brown, who didn't agree with her analyses of British history.
She married Irving Kristol, one of the ideological founders of neoconservatism. She had a son and a daughter.
Her son, William Kristol, founded the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard.