Alice Sokoloff, née Hunt, was born in New York City, the daughter of Dr. James Ramsay Hunt, a prominent professor of neurology at Columbia University and his wife Alice St. John Nolan. She grew up learning to speak several languages and entered Radcliffe College at age 16. Due to financial difficulties caused by the Depression, she left college after her freshman year and worked as a researcher and writer. She was also a pianist and eventually studied composition and began to compose music, including a symphony, some shorter orchestral pieces, three string quartets and works for solo instruments and various chamber groups. She wrote music criticism and reviews for various newspapers for 25 years.
She married Boris Sokoloff, an émigré scientist and intellectual from Russia, with whom she had a son. She edited most of her husband's 27 books. She wrote three biographies, Cosima Wagner, Extraordinary Daughter of Franz Liszt; Kate Chase for the Defense; and Hadley, the First Mrs. Hemingway. She met Hadley Richardson (later Mowrer), who was a neighbor in New Hampshire through Hadley’s niece, who was also Alice’s friend.