Mary Tyler Peabody Mann was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a daughter of Dr. Nathaniel Peabody, a dentist, and his wife Eliza(beth) Palmer Peabody, a teacher. She was the middle of a trio of famous sisters, along with Elizabeth Peabody and Sophia Peabody Hawthorne. Mary grew up in Salem, where her mother was the main breadwinner of the family. She left home at age 17 to teach school in Maine. She moved to Boston to join her sister Elizabeth in running a school for young children. In 1833, Mary accompanied her ailing younger sister Sophia on a "rest cure" in Cuba. Returning to Boston in 1835, she tutored students in Italian, worked for a while at Bronson Alcott’s experimental Temple School, and then returned to Salem, where she established a successful school for children in her home. She began to write educational works for children and parents. Her children’s book, The Flower People: Being an Account of the Flowers by Themselves, was published in 1838. In 1843, at age 36, after a lengthy courtship, she married politician and educator Horace Mann, with whom she would have three children, and went to Europe on an extended honeymoon trip accompanied by Julia Ward Howe and her new husband Samuel Gridley Howe. Following her husband’s death in 1859, Mary wrote his biography and edited his works. She also wrote for various periodicals on education, translated works from Spanish, participated in philanthropic work, and assisted Elizabeth in her kindergarten in Boston. She wrote her first novel, Juanita: A Romance of Real Life in Cuba Fifty Years Ago (1887), at age 80, and it was published posthumously.