Eleanor Farjeon was born in London, England to a literary family. Her parents Benjamin Farjeon and Maggie (Jefferson) Farjeon were both popular novelists. Her younger brothers Joseph and Herbert Farjeon also became writers. She had poor health as a child and was educated at home, where she was encouraged to write. Among her earliest publications was a volume of poems, Pan Worship (1908). During World War I, the family moved to Sussex, whose landscape, villages and local traditions were to influence her later writing. At age 18, she wrote the libretto for an operetta, Floretta, to music by her older brother Harry, who later became a composer and teacher of music. She also collaborated with Herbert on Kings and Queens (1932), The Two Bouquets (1938), An Elephant in Arcady (1939), and The Glass Slipper (1944).
Eleanor had a wide range of friends and moved in artistic and literary circles that included D.H. Lawrence, Walter de la Mare, and Robert Frost. She was a close friend of Edward Thomas, the poet, who was killed in World War I, and later published much of their correspondence and his diaries in her book Edward Thomas: The Last Four Years (1958).
After World War I, she earned a living as a poet, journalist, and broadcaster. Her poems and stories appeared in such publications as Punch, Time and Tide, the Daily Herald, and The New Leader, often under pseudonyms. Today she is best known as a children's book author --her most famous book, Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard (1921) was inspired by a family holiday in France in 1907. During the 1950s, she received three major literary awards: the Carnegie Medal for British children's books; the inaugural Hans Christian Andersen Medal; and the first Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association. She wrote an autobiography, A Nursery in the Nineties (1935). She also wrote the hymn Morning Has Broken, later recorded by singer Cat Stevens.