Margaret Scherf was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, the daughter of a teacher, and as the family moved she attended schools in New Jersey, Wyoming, and finally Montana. She studied at Antioch College of Ohio for three years and left in 1928 to move to New York City for a job as an editorial secretary at a publishing company. From 1934 to 1939, she was a secretary and copywriter for the Wise Book Company. During World War II, she served as secretary to the Naval Inspector at the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in Brooklyn, New York. She also began writing novels, and made her publishing debut with The Corpse Grows a Beard in 1940. It launched her on a literary career that included 27 novels, 26 of them mystery/suspense novels -- some in series -- as well as one volume in the Nancy Drew series, The Secret of the Wooden Lady (as Carolyn Keene, 1950), and another three mystery novels for young readers. Most of them have lighthearted elements; as she explained, "My idea was to write amusing books, without too much gore but with sufficient suspense to carry the reader on." In 1965, she served a year as a member of the Montana House of Representatives and married Perry E. Beeby, owner of a cherry orchard.