Sophie Elkan, née Salomon, was born to a Swedish Jewish family in Göteborg (Gothenburg). Her parents were Alexander Salomon, a merchant, and his wife Henriette Abrahamson. She was educated at a private school. In 1872, she married Nathan Elkan, a music dealer in Stockholm, with whom she had a daughter. She lost both her husband and their two-year to tuberculosis only one day apart. She became a writer, and published short stories and the novels Rika flickor (1893) and Säfve, Kurt & Co. (1894) originally under the pseudonym Rust Roest. In 1899, she began write under her real name, which appeared on the title page of John Hall, an innovative historical novel. She returned to the historical novel with two works on King Gustavus Adolphus IV of Sweden, Konungen (The King, 1904) and Konungen i landsflykt (The King in Exile, 1906) and Anckarström (1910). She was passionately committed to the women's rights cause. She was a close friend of Selma Lagerlöf and traveled with her in Italy, France, Belgium and Holland. In 1899, the pair took a trip to Egypt and Palestine that became the basis for Lagerlöf's novel Jerusalem and Elkan's book Drömmen om Österlandet (Dream of the Eastern Land, 1904). A selection of their letters was published in 1993.