She was born in Farmington, Connecticut to parents John Segar Knowles and Mary Elizabeth Miller Knowles. At age 11 she met the writer Harriet Beecher Stowe. In 1866 she married Charles E. Bolton, a merchant and philanthropist. In 1872 her son, Charles Knowles Bolton was born.
She wrote extensively for the press, was one of the first corresponding secretaries of the Woman's national temperance union, was associate editor of the Boston "Congregationalist" (1878-81), and traveled for two years in Europe, studying profit-sharing, female higher education, and other social questions. Her writings encourage readers to improve the world about them through faith and hard work. She died in Cleveland, Ohio.
Between 1863 and 1902 Sarah Knowles Bolton wrote many poems, children's books and biographical sketches, including:
* "Orlean Lamar, and other poems" (New York, 1863)
* "The Present Problem," a novelette (1874)
* "How Success is Won" (Boston, 1884)
* "Lives of Poor Boys who became Famous" (New York, 1885)
* "Lives of Girls who became Famous" (1886)
* "Social Studies in England" (Boston, 1886)
* "Stories from Life" (New York, 1886)
* "Famous European artists" (New York, 1890)
* "Famous voyagers and explorers" (New York, 1893)
* "The inevitable, and other poems" (New York, 1895)
* "Sarah K. Bolton: Pages from an intimate autobiography edited by her son" (Boston, 1923) ..