Gustava Kielland was born in Kongsberg and grew up in Stavanger and Drammen. Her father, who was a customs official, died when she was twelve. In 1824 she married her childhood friend, the theologian Gabriel Kielland.
She is known as the founder of the first mission association in Norway. As an elderly, blind lady, she dictated her memoirs to her children and grandchildren, describing her childhood, schooling, and recreation, providing culture-historical material from her life as a clergyman's wife in the southwestern part of Norway and a vivid picture of her personal struggle to share her husband's strict religious views. Hjerteblade. Et Udtog af mine Smaadigte was published together with Erindringer fra mit Liv in 1899.