Elizabeth Boatwright was born in South Carolina and began writing poetry as a child. She won a prize from the Charleston Poetry Society at about age 14 and several other regional and national scholarship awards in high school. She attended Converse College in Spartanburg, where she was editor of the campus literary magazine. Her poems appeared in national publications such as Harper's and The Saturday Evening Post. In 1929, she moved to New York City to pursue a writing career. There she met James Lide Coker III, whom she married in 1930 and with him returned to South Carolina. Elizabeth Boatwright Coker continued to write poetry, short stories, and essays as she raised three children. In 1950, she published her first novel, Daughter of Strangers, which became a bestseller. She produced eight more historical novels over the next 30 years, many of them based on research into old diaries and letters, and travels around the world. She often spoke to young elementary and high school students and was a popular commencement speaker in South Carolina. She was an associate visiting professor at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, in 1971-1972, and served as a guest teacher at Converse College and Coker College. In 1991, she was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors.