Isabelle Holland was born in Basel, Switzerland, the daughter of the American consul there. She was educated in England and the USA and earned a bachelor's degree from Tulane University in 1942. She settled in New York City and held various jobs, including publicist, for some of New York's top publishing houses. She also wrote more than 50 books, including many prize-winning books for children and young adults, as well as romantic thrillers and gothic mysteries, but the first of them was not published until 1967, when she was in her late forties. She was still writing at the time of her death. Miss Holland's books for young people addressed a variety of difficult or controversial topics, such as death, rape, incest, teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, homosexuality, and the ravages of alcoholism on families. Two of her books have been adapted as films.