Joyce Porter was born on March 28, 1924, in Marple, Cheshire, England, the daughter of Joshua Porter and Bessie Evelyn (née Earlam) Porter. She was educated at the High School for Girls in Macclesfield, Cheshire, and at King’s College in London, where she received a bachelor of arts degree with honors in 1945. She served in the Women’s Royal Air Force between 1949 and 1963, attaining the rank of flight officer. While in the air force, Porter learned Russian, as she had a special interest in Russian history, especially the czarist period. She toured the Soviet Union by car in 1964.
In 1963, Porter became a full-time writer. She once said that she “began writing in order to be able to retire from [the] Air Force,” and that she continued to write “because it is easier than work.” She later commented that she tried “to write books that will while away a couple of hours for the reader—and make as much money as possible for me.” In her writing, she used outrageously humorous “heroes” who are the very antithesis of the protagonists of such crime and mystery novelists as Frederick Forsyth, Ian Fleming, or P. D. James. Porter’s series characters are all unimaginative, bumbling, and unattractive people who, if they solve their cases, do so despite themselves, not because of their insight and abilities. In addition to her novels, Porter wrote many short stories for magazines such as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. She died on a flight home from China in 1990.