Ada Cambridge was born at St. Germans, Norfolk, England, the daughter of a gentleman farmer, and his wife. She had an idyllic childhood in the Norfolk countryside and was educated at home by governesses, reading widely. In 1870, she married George Frederick Cross, a clergyman with whom she would have five children. Cross was committed to British colonial service and a few weeks later, the couple went to live and work in Australia. They moved to towns around the country, where Ada gained a wide range of experience that she later recalled in her book Thirty Years in Australia (1903). She wrote during her leisure time from the hard-working life of a mother and wife of a country clergyman, and became the first significant Australian woman poet -- although The Hand in the Dark, considered her best work, did not appear until 1913. Her first novel Up the Murray was published as a serial in the Australasian in 1875. Her fourth novel, A Marked Man (1890) brought her financial success, and her next, The Three Miss Kings (1891) won her wider recognition in the UK as well as Australia. She wrote a total of 21 novels, three volumes of poetry, two autobiographies including The Retrospect (1912), and articles contributed to journals such as the Atlantic Monthly. Most of her work featured British colonial society and its distinctive styles and conventions. In 1913, she returned to England with her husband; after his death in 1917, she returned to Australia.