Clara Reeve was one of eight children born to a clergyman and his wife in Ipswich. After his death in 1755, she moved with her mother and sisters to Colchester. Her first published work was a 1772 translation from Latin of Argentis, an allegorical work by the 16th-century Scottish poet John Barclay, issued under the title The Phoenix. She also wrote several original works, the best-known of which was The Champion of Virtue, re-published a year later as The Old English Baron (1778), a Gothic novel written in imitation of -- or as a rival to -- the Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, with which it has often been printed. Clara Reeve also contributed to literary history with her 1785 volume The Progress of Romance, an analysis of the evolution of epic into romance and then into the novel. Sir Walter Scott, an admirer of Clara Reeve, composed a memoir of her for Ballantyne's Novelists.