Susan Barnes Watson was born to a family of journalists that could trace its ancestors to the Mayflower. Her father Mark Skinner Watson was a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and editor of the Baltimore Sun, and her mother Susan Owens was also a journalist. She graduated from Vassar College and taught at the Baltimore Museum of Art. In 1952, she married Patrick Skene Catling, then working with her father on the Baltimore Sun, with whom she had two daughters. The family moved to London in 1956 when Catling was posted to the paper's London bureau. Susan met moved in political and intellectual circles, in which she met and fell in love with Anthony Crosland, an author and future Labour Party politician and Foreign Secretary. After a divorce from Catling, she married Crosland in 1964. She became a freelance writer for British newspapers such as The Sunday Times and Sunday Express, using the name Susan Barnes and produced popular feature stories and profile articles. Among her subjects were Margot Fonteyn, Kenneth Tynan, Barbara Cartland, and Kingsley Amis. Anthony Crosland was at the peak of his career when he suffered a fatal stroke in 1977. Susan Crosland wrote an acclaimed biography of her husband called Tony Crosland (1982). She subsequently wrote several novels, including Ruling Passions (1989), Dangerous Games (1991), The Magnates (1994), and The Politician's Wife (2001). She also published two volumes of collected journalism, Behind the Image (1974) and Looking Out, Looking In (1987). She was a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery from 1978 to 1992.