Catherine Sinclair was a daughter of Sir John Sinclair, 1st Baronet, and his wife Lady Diana Macdonald. From the age of 14, she served as her father's secretary. After his death, she moved to London and began a career as a writer. Her earliest efforts were children's books, perhaps prompted by her brother's children. Her first book, Holiday House, A Book for the Young (1839) was a notable success and innovative for its day by being free of the moralizing tone that usually pervaded works for children. She was the author two dozen other books, including travelogues, biographies, nonfiction, and novels. She discovered Sir Walter Scott's authorship of The Waverley Novels (1814-1831), which were originally published anonymously. She was noted in her own time for her many charitable works as well as for her writing. A monument to Catherine Sinclair was erected at the corner of St. Clome Street and North Charlotte Street in Edinburgh.