Born and raised in central New Jersey in a large family with ancestral roots in Maryland's Eastern Shore, Elizabeth Foxwell grew up reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Rex Stout, but it was her 1984 meeting with Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels and subsequent dragooning into the convention Malice Domestic Ltd. that drew her irrevocably into a life in mystery.
While working at Heldref Publications, Foxwell arranged the acquisition of Clues: A Journal of Detection (the oldest US scholarly journal on mystery/detective/crime fiction) from Bowling Green State University after its editor, Pat Browne, retired. She became the managing editor of Clues and brought Margaret Kinsman on board as executive editor; the first issue under Heldref management was published in fall 2004. McFarland & Co. eventually acquired the journal, and Foxwell also became the editor of the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series. She writes frequently on mystery history and reviews mysteries for Publishers Weekly. She has published a number of short stories, edited several anthologies, and coauthored The Robert B. Parker Companion.
She has served as treasurer and a board member of the Mystery Writers of America (proposing the Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship). Her honors include the Agatha Award for Best Short Story for "No Man's Land" and the George N. Dove Award from the Popular Culture Assn's Detective/Mystery Caucus for her contributions to the serious study of mystery/crime fiction.
Foxwell studied for a semester in London and earned a BS degree in journalism from the University of Maryland–College Park and an MA degree in liberal studies with distinction from Georgetown University. Her master's thesis, "Fighting Words: Women Pacifists Against World War II," focused primarily on Vera Brittain (who appeared on a Nazi "hit list") and Dorothy Day. Her interest in women's service in World War I led to her book In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I and accompanying blog , as well as her efforts to recognize forgotten US women who served in the war (such as the Helen Hagan grave-marker crowdfunding campaign). With past editorial positions at the Catholic University of America, the Society for American Archaeology, the American Bar Assn, and the Council on Undergraduate Research, she currently is an editor at McFarland & Co.