Miss Temple was a tall woman, about sixty years old, or possibly older. Miss Marple felt that she was a "woman who would have stood out in a crowd anywhere". She was "a very handsome woman with dark grey hair coiled high on her head, drawn back from a fine forehead".
Miss Temple reminded Miss Marple of Dame Emily Waldron.
Miss Temple's speciality was Mathematics, but she was what Miss Marple described as "an educator", who was interested in education, what her students were fitted for, and how to encourage them.
When Miss Marple expressed the opinion that people who die young miss a lot, Miss Temple said that they may also escape a lot. Miss Temple said that as she had spent nearly all her life amongst the young, she looked at life as a period in time complete in itself.
Miss Temple invited Miss Marple to guess why she had come on the tour. Miss Marple said that she had the look of one who was on a pilgrimage, and Miss Temple said that described it very well.
Miss Temple had known Mr Rafiel by name, although she had never met him or known him personally. He had given a large endowment to an educational project in which she was interested.
Miss Temple told Miss Marple that Verity Hunt, who had been a pupil at Fallowfield, had been engaged to Mr Rafiel's son, Michael Rafiel. However, Verity had not married Michael, and Miss Temple did not know why. She mentioned that Verity had died, and that she had died because of love, which she described as one of "the most frightening words there is in the world".
Miss Temple was injured when a big boulder rolled down the hillside, while she was walking on the path below. She had been knocked unconscious, and was taken to a hospital in Carristown, with concussion. She did not recover consciousness, but did have a few lucid intervals. During one of these lucid intervals, she asked for Miss Marple.
While Miss Marple was sitting by her bedside, Miss Temple regained consciousness for a short time. She told Miss Marple that her old friend, Sir Henry Clithering, had often mentioned her. She asked Miss Marple to find out the truth about Verity. She then relapsed into unconsciousness.
An hour and a half after speaking to Miss Marple, Miss Temple died, without regaining consciousness.
After the memorial service for Miss Temple, Miss Marple met Archdeacon Brabazon, who was an old friend of Miss Temple. He said that Miss Temple had been coming to visit him, and he thought this was what she had meant when she said she was on a pilgrimage.
In the BBC 1987 adaptation of the novel, Elizabeth Temple is portrayed by Helen Cherry. She plays largely the same role as in the original with some small differences. In this adaptation, she receives a brochure for the bus tour as part of an overall plan made by the dying Jason Rafiel. This persuades her to join the tour. Like in the original, she meets Miss Marple and describes herself as being on a pilgrimage. She also gives Miss Marple some idea of what she is looking for by talking about Verity Hunt and how this "shining girl" had died "of love".
She is killed in a different way. Inside the library of Kingminster Castle, a marble bust is pushed down and falls on her, fatally injuring her. She does ask for Miss Marple but she manages to say much less than she did in the novel. Here she only manages to tell Miss Marple to "ask them about Verity". There are also a number of added plot elements. She asks Lionel Peel to take her to see Rafiel House. In this adaptation, she tried to contact Archdeacon Brabazon but only manages to receive a telephone message from someone saying that the Archdeacon no longer lived where she thought he did. Miss Marple finds this message on the hotel board after Elizabeth died and noted the name. Miss Marple and Professor Wanstead later encounter an elderly clergyman at the funeral and correctly surmise that he was the Archdeacon. A final added plot element gives a different explanation as to why she was killed. The police discovered a letter from Elizabeth Temple to Clotilde Bradbury-Scott. This had been written while she was staying at the Golden Boar in Abbey Ducis. In this letter, according to Professor Wanstead, Elizabeth more or less accuses Clotilde of causing Verity's death and offering to help her come forward and confess. In the original, the motivation was different. Elizabeth was on her way to see Archdeacon Brabazon who lived nearby at the next coach stop. Clotilde had to prevent this as she feared that if the two conferred with each other, they might stumble on the truth.