Charlotte Turner was born into a wealthy London family. She received a typical late 18th-century girl's education at a school in Kensington, where she learned dancing, drawing, music, and acting. She loved to read and write, and even submitted a few poems to a magazine. Her mother's early death, combined with her father's financial problems, forced Charlotte to marry young. In 1765, at age 15, she married Benjamin Smith, with whom she had 12 children. The marriage was unhappy, and Benjamin Smith was an irresponsible husband and father. He illegally spent his inheritance money and wound up in debtor's prison. Charlotte became a writer to support her family. Her first published work, Elegiac Sonnets and Other Essays (1784), was extremely successful and was reprinted nearly a dozen times and translated into French and Italian. Charlotte’s literary success empowered her to leave her husband. She became a friend of many famous artists and writers of her day, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Erasmus Darwin, Mary Hays, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Robert Southey. She supported the French Revolution and its republican principles, and was influential in the rise of the Romantic poets. Her last novel, The Young Philosopher (1798), was considered outspoken radical fiction by Sir Walter Scott and others. Besides poetry, Charlotte Turner Smith wrote children's literature, a two-volume history of England, and A Natural History of Birds, which was published posthumously. In the last 20 years of her life, she had to move frequently due to financial concerns as her popularity waned and her health declined. Her novels were republished again at the end of the 20th century, and literary critics interested in women poets and writers have helped revive her reputation.