Ruth Burr Sanborn was born in Woodville, New Hampshire, the daughter of Wilbur Sanborn and his wife Julia Hobart Sanborn. When she was a small child, her family moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, and she graduated from Framingham High School in 1914. She attended Radcliffe College, where she received both her bachelor's degree magna cum laude in 1918, and her master's degree in 1922. She belonged to the English Club and served as a reporter and then an editor for the Radcliffe News and the Radcliffe Magazine. While still an undergraduate, she wrote The Cuss Club (1917) and co-authored Augusta Wind (1918). After graduation, she went to work as an advertising copy writer. She began her professional literary career in 1922 as editor of Memoirs of the Harvard Dead in the War against Germany. Her short story, "Professional Pride," was published in the O. Henry Memorial Award prize stories in 1929. During her career, she contributed more than 100 short stories to leading American and international magazines. She wrote mysteries and romantic novels, including Murder by Jury (1932) and Murder on the Aphrodite (1935). She also reviewed books for the San Diego Union and the New York Herald Tribune.