Mathilde Blind was born Mathilde Cohen, the daughter of a German Jewish banker. Following the death of her father shortly after her birth, her mother remarried to Karl Blind, a leading revolutionary. They had to flee to England, and Mathilde took her stepfather's surname. Many political refugees and foreign visitors came to the family home. She began to write poetry as a child. Her first publication, an article on the poet Shelley, appeared in the Westminster Review; her first volume of poetry, The Prophecy of Oran, a narrative poem, was published in 1881. At age 18, Mathilde traveled alone to Switzerland and developed her cosmopolitan outlook on life. Among her many influences were George Eliot, George Sand, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Mathilde Blind became one of the leading poets of the late 19th century. Her works ranged from long narrative or philosophical poems to songs and sonnets. She also wrote journalism, translations, literary criticism, biographies, and novels, and championed the higher education of women.