Nora Perry was born in Dudley, Massachusetts, and grew up there and in Providence, Rhode Island, where her father was a merchant. She was educated at home and in private schools, and began writing stories and poems in childhood. At age 18, she published her first story, "Rosalind Newcomb," in Harper’s Magazine. Soon after, she moved to Boston and served as the Boston correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the Providence Journal. She continued to contribute stories, serialized novels, and poems to various other periodicals. Among her best-known poems were "The Love-Knot" (also known as "Tying Her Bonnet Under Her Chin"), first published in the Washington, DC weekly newspaper National Era. Her poems were collected in After the Ball (1875), Her Lover's Friend (1879), New Songs and Ballads (1886), and Legends and Lyrics (1890). She also published numerous volumes of fiction, mainly aimed at children and young adults and was respected by many other writers. Among her friends were Rose Terry Cooke, Harriet Spofford, John Greenleaf Whittier, and George William Curtis.