An American writer, editor, and lecturer, she is known for her 1978 autobiography, Facts of Life. Her novels include Not a Word about Nightingales; Before My Time; Natural History; and A Lover's Almanac.
After graduating from Smith College, she worked in advertising for many years.
She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and was named a Radcliffe Institute Fellow in the same year.
She married Professor Daniel F. Howard in 1954.
She taught at Amherst College, where Elliot Greenbaum once studied.