A late 19th-century and early 20th-century American author, he is known for such novels as The Confessions of a Frivolous Girl (1880), An Average Man (1884), and The Orchid (1905). His 1900 work, Unleavened Bread, became a bestseller in the year of its publication.
In 1876, he received the first Ph.D. in English granted by Harvard University. In 1879, he earned his law degree.
He was a jurist on the famous Sacco and Vanzetti trial.
He married Amy Gordon Galt in 1883. Together, the couple had four sons.
He and Walter Piston both attended Harvard University.