Born Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, he studied in England and France and in his mid twenties became a professor at Queens College in Jamaica.
Although his father was a Protestant minister, Allen became an agnostic and a socialist. After leaving his professorship, in 1876 he returned to England where he turned his talents to writing, gaining a reputation for his essays on science and for literary works.
In 1895, his scandalous book titled The Woman Who Did became a bestseller. The book told the story of an independent woman who has a child out of wedlock.
Grant Allen died at his home on Hindhead, Haslemere, Surrey, England on October 25, 1899.
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