Elizabeth ("Beanie") Clarkson Zwart was born to Bertha Clarkson and Joseph Zwart in Des Moines on August 20, 1904. She graduated from West High School in Des Moines and attended finishing school in New York. In the 1920s, she began a career in journalism, writing for the Des Moines Capitol, New York Herald-Tribune, New York World, and Des Moines Tribune. On January 14, 1928, Zwart married Donald Metcalf. She continued to use "Clarkson Zwart" as her professional name. They had one daughter, Elizabeth ("Mitzi").
In December 1931, Zwart began writing "The Front Row" for the Des Moines Tribune. The column was popular among its readers for its humorous and insightful observations of the everyday lives of Iowans. Zwart continued to write this column for fifty years. Later, the column also appeared in the Sunday Des Moines Register. From 1935 to 1949, Zwart was book editor for the Sunday Register. During the 1960s, she also wrote a monthly column for Better Homes and Gardens, which offered cooking tips.
Zwart retired in 1982 when the Tribune closed. That same year she suffered a stroke. She died July 1, 1983. According to a Des Moines Register article written after her death, Zwart was a private person who declined to give interviews. Consequently, little biographical information about her is available.