The daughter of a Lincolnshire clergyman, Dove attended Girton College, Cambridge but as the University refused to award women degrees she instead received hers ad eundem from Dublin - one of the many so called "steamboat ladies" to do so. She later became Assistant Mistress at Cheltenham Ladies' College in 1877. From there she went on to become headmistress of St Leonards School, St Andrews, Scotland in 1882. She later founded Wycombe Abbey in 1896, and was its first headmistress. In 1900 she also founded the Godstowe School. On retirement from Wycombe Abbey in 1910, she endowed a scholarship at the school.
In 1933, she was presented the Frances Dove Window at All Saints Church, High Wycombe.
- "Miss Frances Dove". Women's Local Government Society. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- Alison L. Prentice & Marjorie R. Theobald, Women Who Taught: Perspectives on the History of Women and Teaching (1991)
- Elsie Bowerman, Stands there a School - Memories of Dame Frances Dove, D.B.E., Founder of Wycombe Abbey School (1965)
- Jessie Street (ed. Lenore Coltheart), Jessie Street, a revised autobiography, Federation Press, (2004) (ISBN 1-86287-502-2)