She studied at Somerville College, Oxford University. From 1942 to 2000 she lived in Hampstead, London. In 1942 she married Elia Goller, with whom she had three children; he died in 1968. In 1985, Celia married Leslie Minchin, who died in 1999. Her many crime novels and stories helped modernize the sensation novel tradition by introducing criminal and (rarely) supernatural elements into domestic settings. Her 1958 novel The Hours Before Dawn won the Edgar Award in 1960.