Wood was born Ellen Meiksins one year after her parents, Latvian Jews active in the Bund, arrived in New York from Europe as political refugees from fascism. She was raised in the United States and Europe.
Wood received a B.A. in Slavic languages from the University of California, Berkeley in 1962 and subsequently entered the graduate program in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, from which she received the Ph.D. in 1970. From 1967 to 1996, she taught political science at Glendon College, York University in Toronto, Canada.
She has written many books and articles, some conjointly with her husband, Neal Wood (1922-2003). Her book The Retreat from Class received the Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize in 1988. Her work has been translated into many languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Turkish, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.
Wood served on the editorial committee of the British journal New Left Review between 1984 and 1993. From 1997 to 2000, Wood was an editor, along with Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy, of Monthly Review, the independent socialist magazine.
In 1996, she was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada, a marker of distinguished scholarship. She now resides in England.
"C.B. MacPherson: Liberalism, And The Task Of Socialist Political Theory", The Socialist Register, Vol.15 (1978), pp. 215—240. Critical evaluation of the thought of C. B. Macpherson. [ Retrieved 18 April 2010 ]
"Liberal Democracy And Capitalist Hegemony: A Reply To Leo Panitch On The Task Of Socialist Political Theory", The Socialist Register, Vol. 18 (1981), pp. 169—189. On socialist political theory. [ Retrieved 18 April 2010 ]
"Marxism Without Class Struggle?", The Socialist Register, Vol. 20 (1983), pp. 239—271. [ Retrieved 18 April 2010 ]
"The Uses and Abuses of 'Civil' Society,", The Socialist Register, Vol. 26: The Retreat of the Intellectuals (1990), pp. 60—84. [ Retrieved 18 April 2010 ]
"Ralph Milband, 1924-1994", Radical Philoshopy, issue 68 (Autumn 1994). Homage to Ralph Miliband
"A Chronology of the New Left and its Successors, or: Who's Old-Fashioned Now?", The Socialist Register, Vol. 31: Why Not Capitalism? (1995), pp. 22—49.
"Modernity, Postmodernity, or Capitalism?", Monthly Review (July-August 1996). [ Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/ 18 April 2010 ]
"Issues of class and culture: an interview with Aijaz Ahmad", Monthly Review (October 1996). [ Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/ 18 April 2010 ]