Born in Philadelphia, Elizabeth Bonsall was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Eakins. As a Howard Pyle pupil, Bonsall attended classes at the Drexel Institute in 1897. In Paris, she studied under Castaigne and Collin. Her membership in clubs included the Plastic Club, the Print Club, and the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Bonsall was the first woman to win the Toppan Prize from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1885 and its Mary Smith Prize in 1888 and 1897.
Elizabeth Bonsall drew primarily animal subjects and is known for her illustrations for The Pied Piper. Her work can be seen in such magazines as the Sunday Magazine and Harper's Monthly during 1907 and 1908. She also produced a Cat Calendar and A Child's Book of Cats, in addition to many cat paintings.