Anne MacIntosh was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and went to Australia with her family in early childhood. Educated at home by a governess and at St. Margaret's School, Berwick, she travelled with her family to England and Scotland at age 15. In 1940, she married John Stanley Elder, a solicitor; the couple had two children. Inspired by Anna Pavlova, Anne Elder began taking ballet lessons in the 1930s and went on to have an impressive career dancing with Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the Australian Ballet Company, and the Borovansky Ballet Company. She also was a poet and in the mid-1960s, she began to publish regularly in newspapers and periodicals. Among her works were two highly regarded collections of poetry, For the Record (1972), and the posthumously published Crazy Woman and Other Poems (1976). A commemorative volume, Small Clay Birds, was published by Monash University in 1988. The Anne Elder Trust Fund Award for first works of poetry was established in her memory by the Fellowship of Australian Writers.