Born in Bristol, the son of a Somerset accountant, Harper was educated at Bristol Grammar School. He came up to Cambridge in 1887, initially as a Non-Collegiate student and then as a pensioner at St John's College. Graduating BA in 1890, with a Third Class in Part I of the Theological Tripos, Harper was ordained in 1892 and embarked upon a clerical career. His first post was as Curate of Holy Trinity, Oxford (1892-5) and he subsequently held positions as Curate of Portman Chapel, London (1895-6), Associate Secretary of C.P.A.S. (1897-9), Rector of West Harling, Norfolk (1899-1915), and Rector of Riddlesworth with Gasthorpe and Knettishall (1915-24). At his old Cambridge college Harper established the Harper-Wood Travelling Studentship in English Poetry and Literature. He died in New South Wales in 1947.
Correspondence, material relating to the Harper-Wood Studentship, poems, Harper's autobiography, typescripts.