Abbott is the daughter of clergyman Edward Abbott, who edited the journal Literary World; and granddaughter of noted children's author of Jacob Abbott. She attended Radcliffe College, and after completing her studies worked as a secretary and teacher at Lowell State Normal School.
In 1908 Abbott married Dr. Fordyce Coburn and relocated with him to Wilton, New Hampshire. Soon after moving, several widely read magazines accepted her work for publication. Two of her poems were accepted by Harper?s Monthly Magazine in 1909. She went on to publish seventy-five short stories and fourteen romantic novels. Being Little in Cambridge When Everyone Else Was Big is an autobiography written by Abbott about her childhood in Cambridge.
In the 1940s she invented the popular game Candy Land. As a suffer from polio she designed the game while in a hospital in San Diego as a way for children to pass the time while recuperating.