Elma Tryphosa Birkett was born in England and spent her early childhood in the Philippines, where her father worked for a trading company. In 1926, at age 19, she married Captain Edward Dangerfield of the Royal Navy and the couple had a daughter. Elma Dangerfield's hero was Lord Byron, and she re-founded The Byron Society in 1972 and served as its director. With her encouragement, Byron Societies were also started in Europe, North America and Australasia. It was her interest in Byron and the Romantic poets that had led to her first publication, a play called Mad Shelley (1936). In addition, Elma Dangerfield was a respected journalist who wrote a series of harrowing articles during World War II for the periodical The Nineteenth Century and After, giving details of Nazi atrocities. She also wrote an account of the deportation of Poles to Soviet camps in Beyond the Urals (1946), which was among the first books to identify the gulags; Rebecca West contributed the preface. Elma Dangerfield was awarded an OBE and later a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of her contributions to journalism.