Born in Acworth, New Hampshire, Julia A. Parker Dyson was the daughter of a well-known physician. She attended a female seminary in New Hampshire and there befriended a fellow student who years later, under the name "Miss E. Latimer," edited and added biographical notes to a posthumous collection of Julia Dyson's writings.
In 1841 she moved to Philadelphia to take a teaching position at Germantown Academy. In Philadelphia, and for the remainder of her life, she suffered from recurrent bouts of illness, and in 1846 she relocated to Clarendon, South Carolina, hoping that a warmer climate would benefit her health. Her 1850 journey through Virginia and the Alleghenies brought her as far west as Pittsburgh, where she recorded her awe of that "great city…begrimmed with coal-dust, smoke, and cinders" in one of the many letters she sent to her family and friends over the course of her travels.
After a visit to her childhood home in New Hampshire, Julia Dyson returned to Clarendon, where a final round of illness proved fatal. She died in her and her husband's South Carolina home in 1852. A volume of her correspondences, journals, essays, and poems entitled Life and Thought, or Cherished Memories of the Late Julia A. Parker Dyson appeared after her death.