Anne W. Armstrong, née Wetzell, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, where her father operated a lumber company. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College, where she wrote for the school's newspaper, in 1893, and later attended the University of Chicago. After a brief first marriage and the birth of a son, she divorced. In 1905, she remarried to Robert F. Armstrong, who published her first novel, The Seas of God (1915). In 1918, she went to work as a personnel director for the National City Company of New York, and the following year became assistant manager for Industrial Relations for Eastman Kodak. During the 1920s, she published several articles in national publications such as Harper's Monthly and The Atlantic Monthly focused on the emerging role of women in business, including her own experiences. She became the first woman to lecture before the Harvard School of Business and Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business at a time when few women were prominent in business. At the end of the decade, she retired from business and moved to rural Sullivan County, Tennessee, the region that provided the inspiration for her most famous work, the novel This Day and Time (1930). During this same time, she began a correspondence with Thomas Wolfe, and wrote her autobiography, Of Time and Knoxville, which was largely unpublished at her death, although a portion of it appeared as "The Branner House" in The Yale Review in 1938.