Jessica Bird was born in 1969 in Massachusetts. She attended Smith College where she double majored in history and art history, concentrating on medieval period. She then received a law degree from Albany Law School. Her first book, Leaping Hearts, was published in 2002. She writes contemporary romance novels under her given name. The Romance Writers of America awarded her the RITA Award for Best Short Contemporary Romance in 2007 for her novel From the First. She also writes erotic paranormal romance under the pseudonym of J. R. Ward. Under this name, she has written the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.