Rebecca Blaine Harding observed many of the subjects and themes of her writings during her upbringing in Wheeling, West Virginia as it changed into a factory town. She worked for a while as a reporter for the Wheeling Intelligencer and married lawyer and journalist Lemuel Clark Davis in 1863. The couple had three children. In her work as a journalist and author, Rebecca Harding Davis broke new literary ground as an American Realist. She hoped to improve the everyday lives and working conditions of industrial workers, women, African-Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants. She moved in prominent American literary circles that included Nathaniel Hawthorne. She published more than 500 works in her lifetime, including her autobiography "Bits of Gossip" (1904). Rebecca Harding Davis's anonymously published novella "Life in the Iron Mills," which appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1861, became the first work published by The Feminist Press in 1972 as part of its series of rediscovered feminist literary classics.