Barbara Murray Holland became an award-winning poet while in high school. Her mother was a writer of bestselling children's books. Barbara moved to Philadelphia after graduation and worked as a copywriter at an advertising agency. She also began publishing articles and short stories in a variety of magazines including Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall's, Redbook and Seventeen. Barbara Holland's first published books were for children, followed by Mother's Day (1980), an autobiographical account of raising children while working full-time. In 1988, she published The Name of the Cat, a popular book that she updated and reissued as Secrets of the Cat: Its Lore, Legend and Lives in 1994, 2002 and 2010. She published several volumes of humorous essays, for which she is probably best known. Her works also included a biography of actress Katharine Hepburn, two books about the U.S. Presidency, and a lighthearted book on jousting. She was married and divorced three times. In her obituary, the Washington Post called her "a self-professed guardian of indulgences including cigars, bacon, naps and gin."