Ellen Horan was raised in Philadelphia and New York. After graduating from college, where she studied painting and history, she lived in France for a year while studying studio art. She remained abroad for a second year and was offered a grant to live and paint in the South of France. She has worked as a freelance photo editor for magazines and books. She became intrigued by the real-life Bond Street murder case, which culminated in a sensational trial In New York City in 1857. Her book 31 Bond Street, A Novel was published by Harper in 2011.