Born in 1874, Ethel Reed was among the distinguished few of female illustrators working in the 1890s who gained recognition during their lifetimes. Although virtually self- taught, she did study briefly at the Cowles Art School in Boston in 1893.
During the mid 1890s, Reed exhibited watercolors at the Boston Art Club, but shortly after, she began to concentrate on the graphic arts. She is best known for her posters advertising romantic novels and fresh-faced young girls surrounded by floral designs. In addition to creating posters, Reed also illustrated books and designed book covers and endpapers.