Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford was an American writer known for her novels (especially detective stories) and poems. Her texts were a favorite of composer Amy Marcy Beach, set to music in Beach's Op. 10 ("The Night Sea," no. 2), Op. 29 ("Sleep, little darling," no. 3), and Op. 41 ("Thy Beauty," no. 2).
Born in Maine, Spofford's Gothic novels broke stereotypes about women writers at the time. She began writing to earn money when her parents were ill, but, after the success of her 1859 story "In the Cellar," which was published in The Atlantic Monthly, Spofford's writings gained attention, and she enjoyed popularity as a writer for the rest of her life.