The daughter of the cartoonist Sir David Low, she gained her BSc in sociology and economics in 1944 from the London School of Economics, and received her doctorate from the University of London in 1949. She published, in seven volumes between 1948 and 1985, The History of the British Film which examines, in exacting detail, film production in Britain from its origins in 1896 up until 1939. Low was awarded a Research Fellowship by Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge to facilitate her work on the later volumes of the series.
The film critic Matthew Sweet has criticised Low's "tyrannous influence" on the writings of subsequent film historians.
The annual Rachael Low Lecture was established in 2007 in her honour, as part of the British Silent Film Festival. In December 2018 an event was held at the British Film Institute Library to assess her legacy and mark her contribution to the history of early British film.
- The History of the British Film 1896–1906 (with Roger Manvell), Allen & Unwin 1948
- The History of the British Film 1906–1914, Allen & Unwin 1948
- The History of the British Film 1914–1918, Allen & Unwin 1948
- The History of the British Film 1918–1929, Allen & Unwin 1950
- The History of the British Film 1929–1939: Films of Comment and Persuasion of the 1930s, Allen & Unwin 1979
- The History of the British Film 1929–1939: Documentary and Educational films of the 1930s, Allen & Unwin 1979
- The History of the British Film: Film Making in 1930s Britain, Allen & Unwin 1985
- Burrows, Elaine; McCabe, Janet; Gledhill, Christine (19 December 2018). "Why Rachael Low matters – a tribute to the pioneering British film historian". BFI. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
- Low, Rachael (ed.) The History of British Film (Volume 1): The History of the British Film 1896–1906; ISBN 978-0-415-67983-1 (2004; reprinted 6 July 2011).
- International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. Europa Publications. 2013. p. 341. ISBN 978-1-136-13764-8.
- Jeffrey Richards "Introduction" to Low's The History of British Film 1896–1906, London: Routledge, 1997 , p. v
- Rachael Low The History of the British Film, Volume V: Documentary and Educational Films of the 1930s, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1979, p. vii
- Sweet, Matthew (2006). Shepperton Babylon. Faber and Faber. p. 103.
- Robinson, David. "Rachael Low Lecture: Silence is Another Country". Eventful. Retrieved 31 January 2018.