Patricia Wentworth was born Dora Amy Elles in Mussoorie, India, in 1878. She was the daughter of a British army officer. She received a high school education at the Blackheath High School in London, where she and her two brothers had been sent to live with their grandmother. When she completed her education, she returned to India, where she married Colonel George Dillon in 1906. He died soon after, leaving her with three stepsons and a young daughter. She returned to England with the four children and established a successful writing career, publishing six well-received novels of historical fiction between 1910 and 1915.
In 1920, Wentworth (then Dillon) married another British army officer, Lieutenant George Oliver Turnbull, and moved to Surrey. He encouraged and assisted her in her writing and served as a scribe while she dictated her stories, the two of them working only during the winter months between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. In 1923, she began writing mystery novels with The Astonishing Adventure of Jane Smith; in 1928, she introduced Miss Silver in Grey Mask. Then, after an interim of nine years and fifteen mystery novels, she revived the Maud Silver character in 1937 and used her exclusively in her books written between 1945 and 1961. She died on January 28, 1961.