Rosaline Orme Masson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, a daughter of David Masson, professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Edinburgh University, and his wife Emily Rosaline Orme. Her older brother David Orme Masson became a famous scientist. She met many of the prominent writers of her day who visited her home, and later provided anecdotes of them in her memoir, Poets, Patriots, and Lovers: Sketches and Memories of Famous People (1933). She became a friend of Robert Louis Stevenson and later wrote two books about him. She wrote several books on Edinburgh and Scotland, six novels, and a collection of short stories called My Poor Niece: and Other Stories (1893). Her numerous works on the English language included Use and Abuse of English and Elements of English Composition, both published in 1896. She also edited the anthology Three Centuries of English Poetry: Being Selections from Chaucer to Herrick (1876) with her father.