Mary Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer was born in London, England, to Rear Admiral Ralph Randolph Wormeley of the Royal Navy, a native of Virginia, and his wife Caroline Preble. The family traveled widely for her father's career, and she was educated by tutors and at a school in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Among her family’s friends were William Makepeace Thackeray and Julia Ward Howe. In the 1840s, the family settled in Newport, Rhode Island, where she wrote poetry and fiction. In 1856, she married Randolph Brandt Latimer of Baltimore. After a hiatus devoted to raising a family, she returned to writing in the 1890s and produced a number of popular histories. These included France in the Nineteenth Century (1892), Italy in the Nineteenth Century (1896), and Judea from Cyrus to Titus: 1537 B.C.-70 A.D. (1899).
She also translated a wide variety of books, including A History of the People of Israel (with J. H. Allen), The Love Letters of Victor Hugo, 1820-22 (1901), and Talks of Napoleon at St. Helena with General Baron Gourgaud (1903).