Clara Reeve was the eldest daughter of Thomas Reeve, a clergyman of old whig principles who she describes as her mentor; one of her brothers became a vice-admiral and another a schoolmaster. After the death of her father in 1755 Reeve settled in Colchester with her mother; she died at Ipswich at an advanced age. Reeve was a noted student of romances ancient and modern, and one of the founders of gothic fiction; her Old English Baron was often reprinted and translated into French and German. Walter Scott composed an admiring memoir of her for Ballantyne's Novelists.
Original poems on several occasions. 1769.
The Phoenix [Barclay's Argenis, trans.] 1772.
The champion of virtue: a gothic story [later, Old English Baron]. 1777.
The two mentors: a modern story. 1783.
The progress of romance. 2 vols, 1785.
The exiles: or memoirs of the Count de Cronstadt. 1788.
The school for widows, a novel. 3 vols, 1791.
Plans for education; with remarks on the systems of other writers. 1792.
Memoirs of Sir Roger de Clarendon. 1793.
Destination, or memoirs of a private family. 1799.
Fatherless Fanny. 1819.