Amélie Louise Rives was born in Richmond, Virginia, a granddaughter of Senator William Cabell Rives, who had been American ambassador to France.
She was the namesake of her aunt Amélie, a goddaughter of Marie-Amélie, Queen of France. In 1888, she published the novel The Quick or the Dead?, a racy bestseller that was her most famous and popular work out of the 24 volumes she produced. Later she turned to theater and began writing plays for Broadway. She married John Armstrong "Archie" Chanler, a descendant and heir of John Jacob Astor, but the union was unhappy and the couple lived apart for most of their seven years of married life. They toured Europe, making the acquaintance of literary figures such as Oscar Wilde and Henry James. In 1896, after their divorce, she married Prince Pierre Troubetzkoy, a Russian-born artist and aristocrat. She was a friend of novelist Louis Auchincloss, who included a chapter on her in his memoir, A Writer's Capital (1974). See also Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age (2006) by Donna M. Lucey.