Elinor Sutherland was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands, the daughter of a civil engineer. She was raised in Canada by her maternal grandmother and returned to Jersey when her mother remarried. She was reputed to be strikingly beautiful, with masses of red hair. Her elder sister was Lucy Christiana Sutherland, Lady Duff-Gordon, who with her husband Sir Cosmo survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and became the renowned fashion designer "Madame Lucile." In 1892, Elinor married Clayton Glyn, a local landowner, with whom she had two daughters. Elinor Glyn became a hugely popular early 20th century novelist and screenwriter who pioneered mass market fiction for women. She coined the term "It" as a euphemism for sex appeal. A scene in one of her works inspired the famous doggerel: "Would you like to sin, with Elinor Glyn, On a tiger skin? Or would you prefer, To err with her, On some other fur?" She published her autobiography Romantic Adventures in 1936.
Glyn was among the guests at William Randolph Hearst's party on board his yacht Oneida on November 15, 1924 when producer Thomas Ince was shot.