She was born in Philadelphia, of French and German extraction, and was educated at the Sacred Heart Convent at Torresdale,
Philadelphia and later at the Agnes Irwin School.
Repplier was reputedly expelled from two schools for “independent behaviour” and illiterate until the age of ten.
Despite this, she became one of America’s chief representatives of the discursive essay, displaying wide reading and apt quotation. Her writings contain literary criticism as well as comments on contemporary life. These characteristics were already apparent in the first essay which she contributed to the Atlantic Monthly (April 1886), entitled “Children, Past and Present.”