Julia Caroline Ripley Dorr was born in Charleston, South Carolina. She began writing poetry in childhood. Her mother died when she was young and her father took her to live in New York City, and then to Rutland, Vermont, where she was educated. In 1847, she married Seneca M. Dorr, a lawyer and banker. The following year, she won a contest in Sartain’s Magazine, which published one of her short stories as the prize. She published her first novel, Isabel Leslie, in 1848. Later novels included Farmingdale (1854), Lanmere (1856), Sybil Huntington (1869), Expiation (1873), and In Kings’ Houses (1898). Often the subject was young women lifting themselves out of poverty through education and persistence. She also wrote the advice book Bride and Bridegroom (1873), three travel books, and at least 10 volumes of poetry. Her work earned the notice of such Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ralph Waldo Emerson.