An American fiction and non-fiction author and poet, she is best known for novels such as Death of a Man (1936) and The Seagull on the Step (1955). Her poetry collections include A Glad Day (1938) and The Lost Dogs of Phnom Pehn (1968).
She attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and the Ohio Mechanics Institute, where she studied violin and architecture, respectively. In 1922, she moved to New York City and began a career in journalism.
She was blacklisted during the 1950s as a result of the political climate of McCarthyism. During this period, she increasingly engaged herself in political activism.
She was the daughter of attorney Howard Peterson Boyle and activist Katherine Evans. She married five times and had six children.
Her short story collections, The White Horses of Vienna (1935) and Defeat (1941), both received O. Henry Awards.