Sara Wacklin was born in Oulu, Finland, to Zacharias Wacklin, a district attorney, and his wife Katarina Uhlander. After her father died when she was in her teens, leaving the family in greatly reduced circumstances, her three brothers left Finland to follow their own careers, and Sara was left to support their mother. She began working as a schoolteacher in Uleåborg. In 1813, she moved to Åbo, where she studied French and music while working as a governess. Between 1815 and 1819, she worked for several families in southern Finland, including the Governor of Tavastaland, Gustaf Hjärne. In 1819, she got the chance to pursue her own education in Sweden, and on her return home, she settled in Uleåborg and opened the first of several school for girls. A disciple of Rousseau, she created a series of pioneering schools that taught languages and other subject usually reserved for boys. In 1835, she went to France, then a leading center for women's education, to take a course for female teachers at the Sorbonne in Paris. On her return to Finland, she became the first professional female academic in Finland. The new school she opened at that time was highly popular and made her financially independent. In 1843, she retired to Stockholm and began a second career as a writer with story ideas she had been writing down for years. In 1844-1845, she published Hundrade minnen från Österbotten (A Hundred Memories of Ostrobothnia), in Swedish, with humorous and serious stories set in the late 18th and early 19th century. The book was a success in both Sweden and Finland and established her literary reputation.