Life and works
Her mother died when she was three years old and after that, Harper was looked after by her aunt and uncle. She was educated at a school run by her uncle, Rev. William Watkins, until the age of fourteen when she found work as a seamstress.
Her first volume of verse, Forest Leaves, was published in 1845, the book was extremely popular and over the next few years went through 20 editions. In 1850, she started working in Columbus, Ohio as a schoolteacher. Three years later in 1853, she joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and became a traveling lecturer for the group. She married Fenton Harper in 1860. She was also a strong supporter of prohibition and woman's suffrage as well as a member of the Unitarian Church. She often would read her poetry at these public meetings, including the extremely popular Bury Me in a Free Land.
Frances Harper died on 22 February 1911.
- Cordery, Stacey in The Gilded Age, Charles Calhoun, ed. Wilimgton, Delaware, Scholarly Resources, 1996, ISBN 0-8420-2500-6
- Shockley, Ann Allen, Afro-American Women Writers 1746-1933: An Anthology and Critical Guide, New Haven, Connecticut: Meridian Books, 1989. ISBN 0-452-00981-2
- Maryemma Graham, ed., The Complete Poems of Frances E. W. Harper, 1988.
- Frances Smith Foster, ed., A Brighter Coming Day: A Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Reader, 1990.
- Melba Joyce Boyd, Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper, 1825–1911, 1994.
- Frances Smith Foster, ed., Minnie's Sacrifice, Sowing and Reaping, Trial and Triumph: Three Rediscovered Novels by Frances E. W. Harper, 1994.
- John Ernest, Resistance and Reformation in Nineteenth-Century African-American Literature, 1995