Lina Eckenstein was born in London, England, to a German immigrant father who fled his native country due to his participation in the revolution of 1848. She was fluent in several medieval and modern languages. Her first known work, published in the 1880s, was a translation of Albrecht Durer's notes from a manuscript in the British Museum. She worked as a researcher at Cambridge University with the archaeologists Sir Flinders Petrie and Hilda Flinders Petrie, her great friend. She became known for her studies of the status of women in the Middle Ages. Her book A History of Sinai (1906) describes the results of her work as registrar on excavations in the Sinai peninsula with Sir Flinders Petrie the previous year. Her most important work, Woman under Monasticism: Chapters on Saint-Lore and Convent Life between A.D. 500 and A.D. 1500, was first published in 1896 and reissued in 1963. She also wrote some children's stories, including The Little Princess and the Great Plot (1892).