Harriette Grundy was born in Birmingham in 1847 to William and Susannah Grundy who themselves originated in Leicestershire. Her father was a hosiery salesman living in Bull Street although the growing family later moved to Lee Bank Road, Edgbaston. In 1865 Harriette was appointed by Birmingham Workhouse Board of Guardians as an industrial trainer. In the three years from 1869 to 1871 she passed many Society of Arts exams including Latin, Arithmetic, French, English Language and Geography. Many of these were taken at the Birmingham Midland Institute. Harriette was one of the successful students present at Birmingham Town Hall in January 1870 when Charles Dickens, as President of the Institute, presented the prizes. She received prizes from the Sunday School Union in national examinations on scripture and the principles and art of teaching.
In 1876 Harriette was appointed headmistress of the King Edwards Lower Middle School in Meriden Street, Digbeth. This was a building shared with a boy’s school. The school grew and, as few students lived near the site, it was moved to Camp Hill House on Stratford Road in 1881. Three years later it was made a Grammar School and Harriette Grundy became the first headmistress of King Edward VI Grammar School for Girls, Camp Hill. The girls followed a simple curriculum including arithmetic, reading, writing, needlework, drawing and some history, geography and scripture. A few girls took the Oxford and Cambridge Junior exams and their examiners visited the school once a year.
In 1891 the school moved to larger premises built on the same site and Harriette remained as headmistress until 1903 when she retired due to ill health. She had never married and shared the family home with her two unmarried sisters. She regularly attended Carrs Lane Chapel, and, at her funeral, it was said that her faith was the great characteristic of her life and that, to her girls, she was an inspiration and guide.