Anna Louise Strong was born in Friend, Nebraska, the daughter of a Congregationalist minister. She graduated early from grammar and high school, then went to Europe to study languages. She attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1903-1904, then transferred to Oberlin College in Ohio, from which she graduated. In 1908, at age 23, she received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago with a thesis later published as The Psychology of Prayer (1909). She became an expert in child welfare and active in left-wing politics. She moved to Seattle, where she won a seat on the School Board in 1916. That same year, she was hired as a stringer by The New York Evening Post to report on the conflict between the Industrial Workers of the World ("Wobblies") and local mill owners. Although at first she was an impartial observer, she soon became an impassioned and outspoken advocate of workers' rights. She contributed pro-labor articles to various publications under the pseudonym "Anise." In 1921, she travelled to Poland and Russia as a correspondent for the American Friends Service Committee to report on the Russian famine. She was then named Moscow correspondent for the International News Service. She began writing books, including The First Time in History (1924), and Children of Revolution (1925). In 1925, she returned to the USA to drum up support for development in the Soviet Union. In the late 1920s, she travelled in China and other areas of Asia and wrote China's Millions (1928) and Red Star in Samarkand (1929). In 1930, she returned to Moscow and helped found the first English-language newspaper in the city, Moscow News, which she served as managing editor for a year. In 1931 she married Joel Shubin, a fellow socialist and journalist. Other works from this period included the bestselling autobiography, I Change Worlds: the Remaking of an American (1935). A trip to Spain during the Civil War resulted in Spain in Arms (1937). Back in the USSR, she interviewed Josef Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, and many other Soviet officials, as well as factory workers and farmers. During World War II, she accompanied the Red Army through Poland. In 1949, she and her journalist boss Mikhail Borodin were arrested in Moscow by the secret police and charged with espionage. She was released and expelled from the country, settling in China, where she lived in the Italian legation in Beijing. There she published the English-language monthly Letter from China and was close friend of the Chinese leadership, including Mao Zedong.