Anna Cora Ogden was born September 12, 1819, to Samuel Gouveneur Ogden and Eliza Lewis Ogden. The ninth of fourteen children, she read from an early age and often wrote poetry and staged plays with her siblings. In 1834, she eloped at the age of fifteen with James Mowatt, a young New York lawyer. They traveled abroad in Europe for several years, returning to New York in 1840. In 1841, when James Mowatt lost his investments and his sight was impaired by illness, Anna Cora turned to her talent for dramatic readings to earn an income for her family, which included three adopted children. She also published articles, novels, and plays. Her first major play, Fashion, or, Life in New York, a satirical comedy about high-society New York, is considered one of the foundational works of early American drama. In 1845, she made her debut as an actress, performing in several leading roles and touring the United States and Europe until 1854.
After James Mowatt's death in 1851, she remarried in 1853 to William Foushee Ritchie, the editor of the Richmond Examiner. Living in Richmond, Virginia, Anna Cora took a leading role in the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association's efforts to purchase and restore the home of George Washington. In 1860, she separated from her husband and spent most of the next decade in Europe. Anna Cora Ritchie died in England in 1870.