Emilie Smith, the daughter of a retired sea captain turned merchant, grew up in the archipelago of Bohuslän and often accompanied her father on voyages along the coast of Sweden. This was how she met the fishermen, smugglers, and their families who were later to become characters in her stories. At age 20, she married Axel Flygare, a physician, and went to live with him in the southern province of Småland. After her husband's death in 1833, Emilie decided to become a writer. She moved to Stockholm, and in 1841 remarried to Johan Gabriel Carlén, a lawyer and poet. Their home became a gathering place for Stockholm's literary circles. Beginning in 1838 with Valdemar Klein, Emilie Flygare-Carlén produced one or two novels each year until 1884. Her productivity was interrupted for six years following the premature death of her son Edvard Flygare, who had also become a writer. She established charitable endowments to assist students and teachers, as well as fishermen and their widows. In 1878, she published an autobiography, Minnen af svenskt författarlif (Reminiscences of Swedish Literary Life). She was the most widely read Swedish novelist of her time and her work was translated into many other languages. Her daughter Rosa Carlén also became a popular novelist.