She grew up under the care of her maternal grandfather as part of an aristocratic Southern family, but started her career as a writer around age 18, writing under the pseudonyms Clare and later Ada Clare.
She moved to New York City in 1854, took up acting, engaged in a widely publicized liaison with pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and bore a son out of wedlock. During the height of her acting career, she frequented Pfaff's Cellar, where she became known as the "Queen of Bohemia". She also wrote for the Saturday Press, an iconoclastic weekly magazine of the arts. Her only novel, entitled Only a Woman's Heart (1866), was so poorly received by reviewers that she withdrew from active writing, and spent the rest of her life acting in a provincial stock company.
- Kenneth T. Jackson: The Encyclopedia of New York City: The New York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995. P. 238.
- Ada Clare, Queen of Bohemia, by Charles Warren Stoddard, National Magazine, September 1905
- Obituary, Brief Chronicles, William Winter
- 2 short radio segments of Clare's writing from California Legacy Project Radio Anthology (scripts and audio)