An American writer and teacher, she is best known for her classic children's novel, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903). Her other works include The Birds' Christmas Carol (1887) and The Diary of a Goose Girl (1902).
She worked in the San Francisco slums as the lead teacher at California's first free kindergarten. She published her debut novel, The Story of Patsy, in 1883.
Despite her love of children, she never had any of her own.
Following her first husband's sudden death in 1889, she moved to Maine, where she lived for the remainder of her life. She married her second husband, George Christopher Riggs, in 1895.
She and Eleanor Estes both wrote children's books.