Although one of the pre-eminent female novelists of her day, Catharine Maria Sedgwick is now mostly forgotten except for her 1827 book Hope Leslie. She published more than 100 short stories and sketches as well as biographies, religious works, novellas, travelogues, advice books, and books for children.
She had numerous siblings as part of a prominent Federalist political family in western Massachusetts; her father Theodore became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She never married, and spent part of every year in the homes of her brothers, who encouraged her to write. She also maintained an occasional literary salon. Her sister-in-law ran a fashionable girls boarding school called Mrs. Charles Sedgwick's Young Ladies School in Lenox, Massachusetts, where she may have taught.