Born in Leeds, England, Smith came to B.C. in 1913. She was a member of the University of British Columbia's first graduating class in Honours English (1921). She earned her first M.A. from UBC in 1922 and her second from the University of Toronto in 1926. She gained her Ph.D from the University of London in 1933 after writing a thesis entitled "A Study of the Publications of the Minerva Press, 1790-1820". She joined the UBC English department in 1935 and also lived at an isolated Forest Service station prior to commencing her employment at the Provincial Archives in Victoria in 1957. She retired in 1968, having edited a collection concerning James Douglas in California. She produced three more books and received an honorary doctorate from UBC in 1978, the year of her death.

Author of:

James Douglas: Father of British Columbia. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1971) 0-19-540187-5

Editor of:

James Douglas in California (Vancouver: The Library's Press, 1965)

Lady Franklin Visits the Pacific Northwest (Victoria: Provincial Archives, 1974)

The Reminiscences of Doctor John Sebastian Helmcken. (UBC Press, 1975) 0-7748-0038-0).

[BCBW 2003] "Early B.C." "1850-1900" "James Douglas"

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Lady Franklin Visits the Pacific Northwest: Being Extracts from the Letters of Miss Sophia Cracroft, Sir John Franklin's Niece, February to April, 1861 and April to July, 1870
The Reminiscences of Doctor John Sebastian Helmcken