Ellen Wood, née Price, was born in Worcester, England, a daughter of a prosperous glove manufacturer. She began writing in childhood. She was affected by a severe curvature of the spine and had to spend hours and days at a time on a reclining board or couch. The condition affected her growth, and she was under five feet in height as an adult. In 1836, she married Henry Wood, the head of a banking and shipping firm, with whom she had five children. They lived in the south of France for 20 years for his business. She contributed short stories to the New Monthly Magazine and Bentley’s Miscellany, under the name Mrs. Henry Wood, beginning with "Seven Years in the Wedded Life of a Roman Catholic," published in 1851. Around 1856, her husband left his business, and the the family moved to Upper Norwood in southeast London, where Ellen now began to write novels to support them. She produced more than 30 novels, many of which were vastly popular and successful. The best known is East Lynn (1861), a sensational bestseller adapted numerous times for the stage and film. She also wrote essays, reviews, and several works of supernatural fiction, including the often-anthologized story "Reality or Delusion?" (1868). In 1867, she bought Argosy magazine and published the works of contributors such as Hesba Stretton, Julia Kavanagh, Christina Rossetti, Sarah Doudney, and Rosa Nouchette Carey, as well as her own until her death.