Elinor Morton Hoyt grew up in a socially prominent family New Jersey family. Her father was a lawyer who became U.S. Solicitor General. She was raised to be a debutante and society wife, but rebelled against these expectations. In 1905, she married her first husband, Philip Hichborn, a would-be poet, on the rebound from another romance. In 1910, she left him to elope to England with Horace Wylie, a married man, causing a scandal. Encouraged by Wylie, Elinor published an anonymous volume of poems in 1912. The couple returned to the USA at the start of World War I and officially married in 1916, but by that time, they were drawing apart. Elinor Wylie moved to New York and became active in literary circles -- her friends included Edmund Wilson, John Dos Passos, Sinclair Lewis, Carl Van Vechten, and her future third husband, William Rose Benet. The Dictionary of Literary Biography says, "she captivated the literary world with her slender, tawny-haired beauty, personal elegance, acid wit, and technical virtuosity." Encouraged by her friends, Elinor Wylie submitted poems to Poetry magazine; four were published in the May 1920 edition, including her most widely anthologized poem, "Velvet Shoes."
She separated from Horace Wylie in 1921. She published four volumes of poetry and four novels between 1921 and her death in 1928, in addition to essays and reviews and working as a literary editor of leading magazines such as Vanity Fair.