According to a biography of Ella Wheeler Wilcox on Poem Hunter.com, she wrote "Solitude" in reaction to a weeping woman clad in black who was sitting across the aisle from her on a train. When Wilcox reached her destination, her depression caused her to compare her own face in a mirror to that of the grieving widow, and the opening of the poem came to her.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox sent "Solitude" to The New York Sun, and she received $5 for it. The poem was later included in the book "Poems of Passion" in 1883.
Wilcox began publishing poetry when she was very young. Some of her writings appeared in the "New York Mercury" when she was only 14. Her first book, "Drops of Water," was published when she was 22. "Poems of Passion," which has a title that was risqué for its time, established her reputation and widened her audience. She subsequently published a number of poetry books, several books of fiction and two memoirs. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, her poetry was considered slightly erotic and unconventional for its time. Wilcox was interested in spiritualism and the occult, and after her husband died, she tried to communicate with him. Through her writings, she sought to popularize positive thinking and various facets of occult teachings.