Helen Maria Fiske was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, the daugher of a minister and professor at Amherst College. She was a school friend of Emily Dickinson, and the two correspondended all their lives. In 1852, she married Edward Bissell Hunt, a military officer, with whom she had two sons. Following the premature deaths of her husband and her children, Helen remarried in 1875 to William Sharpless Jackson, a wealthy banker. She took the name Jackson and published some of her works as Helen Hunt Jackson, anonymously, or under the pseudonym "Saxe Holm." Her first novel Mercy Philbrick’s Choice (1876) is considered a fictionalized portrait of her friend Emily Dickinson. It was followed by Ramona (1884), which became extremely popular and is the work for which she's best-known today. Along with Ramona, her book Century of Dishonor: A Sketch of the United States Government's Dealings with some of the Indian Tribes (1881), championed the rights of Native Americans, a cause she supported for many years. Many of Helen Hunt Jackson's stories, poems, and personal reminiscences were collected and published posthumously in Sonnets and Lyrics, Glimpses of Three Coasts (1886) and Between Whiles (1886). She died at the age of 54.