Grace Atkinson Lovell was born in Boston and in 1869, married John Harvard Ellis, a lawyer. He died about a year later. Grace wanted a diversion from grief, and began her adult writing career with articles for Old and New Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and other periodicals. She then began producing biographical works. Her popular "Study of Maria Edgeworth" (published 1882) was written after a season spent in literary circles in London, encouraged by members of Edgeworth's family. In 1879, Grace married Dr. Joseph Pearson Oliver, a physician and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. After moving to Salem in 1889, Grace Oliver became a founding vice-president of the Thought and Work Club, served on the Salem school board, and was active in the New England Woman's Press Association and New England Woman's Club. She also served as president of the Salem Society for the Higher Education of Women.