Rose Alnora Hartwick was born in Mishawaka, Indiana, the daughter of a tailor. Her family moved first to Kansas and to Hillside County, Michigan when she was eleven. She completed her high school education in Litchfield, Michigan in 1868 and whilst still at school wrote a poem entitled Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight about a Cavalier heroine of the English Civil War who saved her lover’s life. This poem, published in the Detroit Commercial Advertiser, won her national recognition and she went on to have her other early poems published in other local newspapers and periodicals.
In 1871 she married Edmund Carson Thorpe, a carriage maker and writer of German dialect recitations and they had two children. She continued to write short stories and poems for young people, often with religious and moral themes. Her books were profusely illustrated, some by one of her daughters. In 1881 her husband’s carriage making business failed which necessitated her taking a job as editor of a series of religious monthlies, Temperance Tales, Words of Life and Well Spring.
After her husband contracted tuberculosis they moved to San Antonio, Texas for his health and then in 1886 to La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego where they lived for the remainder of their lives. Their house was named, appropriately, Curfew. Her husband died in 1916, whereafter she became heavily involved in local women’s activities such as the YWCA and the suffrage movement. She died of a heart attack in 1939 at the age of 89.
She published her first two collections of poetry, Ringing Ballads and Temperance Poems in 1887 and a volume, Poetical Works of Rose Hartwick Thorpe, in 1912. Although none of her later poems met with the same acclaim as her first offering, some, such as Two Pictures and The Station Agent’s Story, were well received. Her poetry has a strongly moralistic and religious flavour and is sentimental and romantic if at times a little too melodramatic.