Poet, fiction writer, and essayist Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard was born and raised in Mattapoisset, Massachusetts. The daughter of a shipbuilder, Stoddard was educated at Wheaton Female Seminary.

She married poet Richard Stoddard in 1851 and together they had three children, two of whom died as infants. The Stoddards’ New York City home was a gathering place for local poets, and Elizabeth began to submit her own poetry, fiction, and social commentary to journals. From 1854 to 1858, Stoddard contributed a bimonthly column to the San Francisco newspaper Daily Alta California.

Stoddard wrote three novels, including The Morgesons (1862), and many short stories, essays, children’s tales, and poems. Uncommon for her time, her work questions the conventions of gender roles and is rooted in an unsentimental, irreverent realism. Her poetry, gathered in Poems (1895), often examines a fragile domestic realm.