In Manning, South Carolina, on July 14, 1927, Parish entered the world. Growing up she pursued her twin loves of reading and writing by attending the University of South Carolina and earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. After graduation, she turned to teaching. Few people entered the education field at this time, but Parish found work instructing children in creative dance. Then she taught third grade in Oklahoma's Panhandle and helped produce community shows. Very creative, Parish continued searching for more outlets for her ideas.
Moving to New York, Parish taught at an experimental school in Manhattan and found a creative environment that flourished. She stayed for fifteen years, and here she began writing. Her first book called My Golden Book of Manners was published in 1961. With the help of a child's parent who was also an editor, Parish came into contact with an editor at Harper. Consistently improving in her writing, Parish created the character Amelia Bedelia and saw twelve Amelia Bedelia books published. Parish also wrote mystery novels and arts and crafts books, totaling over forty books in all. As well as writing, Parish also helped train teachers and penned book reviews.
After returning to her native South Carolina, Parish passed away from an aneurysm on November 19, 1988, at age 61. For her many Amelia Bedelia fans, her nephew, Herman Parish has written several books following the adventures of the maid who took everything very literally. Parish would most likely be proud of her nephew's success.