Austen was born in London, and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. She was a church organist for most of her active career, from 1844 to 1848 at Ealing Church, and from 1848 to 1857 at Paddington Chapel. She composed various hymns, of which one, "St. Agnes", was published in Charles Steggall's Church Psalmody (1849).
She married Thomas Anstey Guthrie shortly after leaving Paddington Chapel. One of her sons, also named Thomas Anstey Guthrie, became a well-known novelist. She died in Glasgow.