Sara Fabricius was born in Kristiana (now Oslo), Norway and the family moved to Tromsø when she was 12. She started painting as a teenager and went to Paris, where she married the Swedish sculptor Anders Jönsson. In 1921, the couple moved to Sweden. Sara and her husband divorced and she won custody of their son. She was 46 years old when her debut novel, Alberte and Jakob, was published under the pen name Cora Sandel. It was the first volume of what was to become the largely autobiographical Alberta Trilogy. The work made Sandel an immediate success in Scandinavia, but she was not discovered by the English-speaking world until the 1960s. Despite her great literary renown, she hid behind her pseudonym and lived a secluded life. Sandel's fiction is noted for its fine style and the psychological depth of her characters.