Remembered for such American frontier-themed books as Forest Life, Western Clearings, and A New Home; Who'll Follow, this nineteenth-century writer also established several schools in New York and belonged to a literary circle that included notable poets
She and her ten younger siblings grew up in New York City. After living in Michigan for a time and publishing her first literary works, she returned to her home state.
During the late 1840s, she edited a publication called the Union Magazine.
She and her husband, New York Evening Mirror editor William Kirkland, married in 1828 and subsequently became parents to five children, including a son, Joseph Kirkland, who had a career as a novelist.
She was an acquaintance and literary contemporary of the acclaimed English novelist Charles Dickens.