Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt was born in Lexington, Kentucky in August of 1836. She was the daughter of Talbot Nelson Bryan and Mary Spiers, who were slaveholders. Her mother died when she was still young, so much of her life was spent traveling from place to place. As a young woman, she attended Henry Female College in New Castle, Kentucky. It was here that she first developed her passion for writing and studied Romantics.
After her graduation, she began to write seriously. It is known that she was deeply influenced by the work of Lord Byron. Some, including her editor and mentor, George Prentice, thought that Piatt depending too heavily on the Romantics to drive her writings. The first pieces that she published, which are considered to be juvenile, appeared in the Louisville Journal.
In 1861, Sarah married John James Piatt who was also a writer. His poetic work had appeared alongside hers in the Louisville Journal. He also worked as a federal employee and would go on to serve as an American Consul in Ireland. Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt continued to write throughout her life, even though the family moved throughout the United States and Ireland. Soon after the couple married, they moved from Ohio to Washington, D.C. She was living here when she wrote the poem, ‘Hearing the Battle.—July 21, 1861.’ They would return to Ohio a number of years later.
Eventually, the couple moved to Cork, Ireland where they lived for a decade. Throughout their marriage, Piatt gave birth to seven sons and one daughter. Three of her children would die while they were still young. One of the hardest losses was that of their 10-year-old son Victor who died in a fireworks accident; another son drowned off the coast of Ireland.
Piatt was a popular poet during her lifetime and her first work, The Nests at Washington And Other Poems was co-published alongside her husband, in 1864. This was followed by her first solo work, A Woman’s Poems in 1871. She would go on to publish another four collections which included, A Voyage to the Fortunate Isles, That New World, and Dramatic Persons and Moods. This last work appeared in 1880 and would be followed by a number of collections of poetry. The poems she wrote in Ireland were gathered in An Enchanted Castle, and Other Poems, in 1893. Her last book, The Gift of Tears was published in 1906.
Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt died in 1919, after publishing approximately 450 poems throughout her life.