Born in the Waverly section of Baltimore, Maryland, she was a school teacher from 1873 to 1918 at the Western High School in Baltimore. During the 1920s, she became a prominent literary figure, receiving critical praise and recognition, in particular from H. L. Mencken, himself from Baltimore.
Her poetry, remarkable for its intensity and concision, has been compared to that of Emily Dickinson. She is probably best remembered for the sonnet "Tears." Her volumes of poetry include A Branch of May (1887), A Handful of Lavender (1891), A Quiet Road (1896), Spicewood (1920), and Selected Poems (1926).