Eleanora Carus-Wilson was born in Montreal, Canada, and educated at Westfield College, London, where she graduated in 1921. Her mother had been one of the earliest female students at University College London.
Carus-Wilson studied at Westfield for an MA in history in 1926, and worked there as a part-time lecturer between 1930 and 1931. Her first edited book in 1932 was a history of the college.
As an economic historian, Carus-Wilson owed much to her mentor Eileen Power of the LSE. She came to specialise in the history of trade and commerce during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance periods.
During the Second World War, Carus-Wilson worked for the Ministry of Food, after which she joined the LSE as a lecturer, rising to become Professor of Economic History at the LSE in 1953. Her principal works include England's Export Trade, 1275–1547 (1963), written with her student, Olive Coleman.