Reese was born in Baltimore to a German mother and Confederate soldier father. She was based in Baltimore her entire life, working for about 50 years in the Baltimore public school system as an English teacher.
Reese's poetry gained attention with her first publication A Branch of May in 1887. She proceeded to publish eight more volumes of poetry in her life.
Reese co-founded the Women's Literary Club of Baltimore and was a member of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore.