Henrietta Cordelia Ray, poet, writer, teacher, and activist, was born somewhere between 1849 and 1852. Her specific year of birth is uncertain. The fact that she was born into a well-to-do family, however, is not.
She was one of seven children. Her father, Charles Ray, a minister and abolitionist, believed that breeding and culture were important assets in life.
Henrietta had high aspirations. She wanted to make her mark in literature, gaining major notice as a writer in 1876, when her poem "Lincoln" was read at a dedication ceremony attended by Frederick Douglas.
After graduating from the Sauvener School of Languages and the University of the City of New York in 1891, she went on to become a NYC school teacher and taught in the public school system for over 30 years.
Meanwhile, her poetry over the years, appeared in several publications and friends encouraged her to publish a complete collection. She published two collections of 146 poems, whose technique has been described as "unusually rich."
"Sonnets" was published in 1893 and "Poems" in 1910.
Ray died in 1917.
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