Edna Henry Lee Turpin was born at Echo Hill, her parents' plantation in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. She spent her childhood there with her mother and her older brother.She began writing at an early age and published her first story at age 15.
She graduated from Hollins College and devoted her life to writing. Her works ranged from textbooks to fiction, including A Short History of the American People (1911), Honey Sweet (1911), Peggy of Roundabout Lane (1917), Happy Acres (1922), Three Circus Days (1935), and others.
In addition to her own writing, she also edited and selected a number of collections for young readers, including The Gold-Bug and Other Selections from the Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1898) and Grimm's Fairy Tales.