Kate Norgate was the daughter of a noted bookseller and granddaughter of the journalist Thomas Starling Norgate. She was one of the first women to achieve academic success as an historian. She was influenced by the work of the prominent historian Alice Stopford Green, and her first work England under the Angevin Kings (1887) took fifteen years to complete.
She is best known for her history of England under the Angevin kings and for coining the name "Angevin Empire" to describe their domains. Kate Norgate was elected an honorary fellow of Somerville College of Oxford University in 1929 in recognition of her literary contributions.