Miriam Allen De Ford (or deFord) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and began her writing career as a newspaper reporter. She joined the early feminist movement in the USA and campaigned to distribute birth control information to women. With her first husband, Maynard Shipley, she also fought against the evolution deniers of the 1920s. She did field work for Charles Fort, the researcher into alleged paranormal phenomena. She was also active in civil rights organizations, including the ACLU.
During the 1920s, she wrote for a number of left-wing magazines including The Masses. However, she's best known as a prolific writer of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery stories. The sci-fi and fantasy were originally published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and later collected in volumes such as Xenogenesis (1969) and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow (1971). Her mystery short stories, which originally appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, were collected in The Theme Is Murder (1967). She also wrote about true crime, such as the Leopold and Loeb case and Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow; she won an Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime for her book The Overbury Affair (1960), about a 17th century English case.