Ishbel Ross was born on the Isle of Skye off the coast of Scotland, one of six children in an affluent family, and grew up in the Highlands. She attended Edinburgh Ladies College and the Tain Royal Academy. In 1916, she moved to Canada and joined the staff of the Toronto Daily News as a clerk filing clippings. In six weeks she rose to become a reporter with her own byline and a front-page story to her credit. She reported World War I news from the Balkan front in Salonika, Greece, and Serbia, keeping a diary of her experiences that was published after her death. By age 24 she was the first female reporter for the New York Tribune. Over a 15-year career there, her beats ranged from crime to the White House to women's suffrage. She often covered the same stories as her journalist husband, Bruce Rae of The New York Times, whom she married in 1922. In 1932, she published her first novel, Promenade Deck, and encouraged by its success, she turned to writing fiction and biographies, most of them on extraordinary American women. In 1936, she published the first formal history of female journalists, Ladies of the Press: The Story of Women in Journalism by an Insider. Other books included Crusades and Crinolines (1963); Charmers and Cranks: Twelve Famous American Women Who Defied Conventions (1965); Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve: The Role of Women in American History (1969); The President's Wife: Mary Todd Lincoln (1973); and Power with Grace: The Life Story of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson (1975).