Elisabeth Luther Cary was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Edward Cary, a newspaper editor, and his wife Elisabeth Luther. She was educated at home by her father and studied art between 1885 and 1898.She began her literary career in the 1890s by translating three novels from French into English. Her first original work, published in 1898, was entitled Tennyson: His Homes, His Friends, and His Work. This was followed by similar critical studies of writers and artists such as Robert Browning (1899), Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti (1900), William Morris (1902), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1904), and William Blake (1907). In 1905, she began writing and publishing a monthly small art magazine called The Scrip. In 1908, Elisabeth Luther Cary was named the first full-time art critic of The New York Times, where she worked for the next 28 years.