Sophia McIlvaine Herrick was a talented writer with multiple interests. She was born Sophia McIlvaine Bledsoe in Gambier, Ohio, in 1837, the eldest child of Albert Taylor and Harriet (Coxe) Bledsoe. Sophia’s father, a southern educator and writer, was teaching at Kenyon College at that time. Sophia was largely self-taught in her early years, with the guidance of her aunt Margaret Coxe, first in Cincinnati and finally in Dayton. From her 11th year until her marriage she lived with her parents at the University of Mississippi and the University of Virginia.