Sophie Margareta von Knorring, née Zelow, was born at the manor of Gräfsnäs, Sweden, to an aristocratic family. Her parents were Christian Göran Zelow, chamberlain at the royal court, and his wife Helena Sophia Gripenstedt. She and her four younger sisters were educated by tutors in subjects regarded as suitable for a young noblewoman: languages -- German, English, French, and Italian -- religion, history, literature, music, painting, and dancing. She made her debut in society in 1812-1813, when she was introduced to Madame de Staël and saw plays by Racine and Corneille performed by the French theatre company. In 1814, her father lost his fortune, and the family was reduced in circumstances. In 1820, she married Baron Sebastian von Knorring, a Swedish army officer, whom she followed on his assignments, though she suffered from tuberculosis. She made her literary debut in 1834 with the novel Cousinerna (The Cousins). Most of her works were romantic love stories, including some about forbidden love. The protagonists of her controversial 1843 novel Förhoppningar (Hopes) were a 16-year-old boy and his former stepmother. Her books were very popular in their day and were translated into German, French, English and Danish.
Today she is considered one of the pioneers of the realistic novel in Swedish. She died in 1848, at age 50, probably of tuberculosis.