Katharine Brush, née Ingham, was the daughter of the headmaster of Drummer Academy, a private boys school in Massachusetts. She began writing as a child. She was sent to boarding school in New Jersey, where she kept a voluminous diary that provided material for her later works. At age 16, she got a job as an apprentice stenographer for two Boston-based newspapers. She typed for the assistant drama editor, and when she was promoted, took over her position. In 1920, she married Thomas Stewart Brush, who managed a daily newspaper, The Review-Tribune, for his family's publishing company in Ohio, and had a son. Within a few months, she began writing a movie column for the Review-Tribune under the pen name Barbara Blake. Later she covered breaking news events and sports.
In 1924, her short story "Home," after receiving 11 rejections, was bought by Munsey's magazine.
She wrote stories for pulp magazines, greeting card verses, children's magazines pieces, and finally began selling humorous personal stories to national magazines such as College Humor and Cosmopolitan, the best known of which were later collected in book form as Night Club (1929). Her story "Him and Her," published in Collier's Weekly, won the O. Henry Award for Best Short Short of 1929. Her short short story "The Birthday Party" is frequently taught in literature classes.
Her Jazz Age novel Glitter (1926) was adapted into two films, and Young Man of Manhattan (1930) was a bestseller. She is probably better known today for her subsequent novel Red-Headed Woman (1931), which was made into a 1932 film starring Jean Harlow and known for its racy humor. Her semi-autobiographical novel, This Is on Me, appeared in 1940. She died of cancer at age 49.