Mary Cholmondeley was born at Hodnet near Market Drayton in Shropshire, the third of eight children of Rev Richard Hugh Cholmondeley (1827–1910) and his wife Emily Beaumont (1831–1893). Her great-uncle was the hymn-writing bishop Reginald Heber and her niece the writer Stella Benson. An uncle, Reginald Cholmondeley of Condover Hall was host to the American novelist Mark Twain on his visits to England. Her sister Hester, who died in 1892, wrote poetry and kept a journal, selections of both appearing in Mary's family memoir, Under One Roof (1918). After brief periods in Farnborough, Warwickshire and Leaton, Shropshire, the family returned to Hodnet when her father was appointed rector in 1874 in succession to his father. Much of the first 30 years of her life was taken up with helping her sickly mother run the household and her father with parish work, although she was debilitated with asthma. She entertained her brothers and sisters with stories from an early ageAfter her father retired in 1896, she moved with him and her sister Diana to Condover Hall, which they had inherited from Reginald. They sold it and moved to Albert Gate Mansions in Knightsbridge, London. After her father died, she lived with her sister Victoria, moving between Ufford, Suffolk, and 2 Leonard Place, Kensington. During the war she did clerical work in the Carlton House Terrace Hospital. The sisters moved in 1919 to 4 Argyll Road, Kensington, where Mary died on 15 July 1925. She never married.