Charlotte Murray Russell was born in Rock Island, Illinois, and lived most of her life there. She attended Knox College and Augustana College before graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Chicago in 1921. She did graduate work at McGill University in Montreal, then returned to her hometown to teach French and Latin at Rock Island High School for five years. In 1925, she married Marcus J. Russell. She became a bestselling crime writer and a leader in the "cozy" mystery genre, publishing some 20 novels between 1935 and 1953. A dozen of them featured the character of Jane Amanda Edwards, a fortyish spinster and amateur sleuth living in the fictional town of Rockport in the Midwest. After she stopped writing, Russell worked at the Rock Island Public Library for nearly 40 years.