Carolyn Gold Heilbrun was born in East Orange, New Jersey on January 13, 1926. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College in 1947 and a master's degree in 1951 and a doctorate in 1959 from Columbia University. She spent almost her entire academic career at Columbia University, joining the faculty in 1960 as an instructor of English and comparative literature and retiring as the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities in 1992. She wrote several books under her real name including Toward a Recognition of Androgyny: Aspects of Male and Female in Literature, Reinventing Womanhood, Writing a Woman's Life, and The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty. She wrote the Kate Fansler Mystery series under the pseudonym Amanda Cross. She committed suicide on October 9, 2003.