Clara Reeve (1729-1809) was a well-known novelist who published 24 volumes over 33 years. Her father was a perpetual curate of St Nicholas Church Ipswich.
Clara lived in both Ipswich and Colchester, but it was in Carr Street in Ipswich that she supported herself by writing, despite the disapproval of her family.
She was a provincial bluestocking, especially concerned with educational opportunities for young girls and the use of education for the common good. Her most famous novel ‘The Old English Baron' was reprinted thirteen times and is still in print. It is seen as bringing gothic fiction closer to the realm of probability and away from horror. This novel is said to have influenced Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein'.
In 1789 it was produced at Drury Lane as ‘The Haunted Tower'. Sir Walter Scott in 1819 included Clara Reeve in a select collection of prefaces for the ‘Novelists Library'. Clara lived and died modestly. She is buried in the churchyard of St Stephen Church, Ipswich but without a headstone.