Ursula Dahlerup was born in Copenhagen into an artistic home as the daughter of the portrait painter Niels Peter Holbech and the music lover Caroline Gamborg. In her memoirs, she provides lively and enthusiastic accounts of her childhood and youth in a period when society and the family were changing, and modern ways of life were evolving.
She dreamed of becoming an artist, but ended up putting her energy, decorative talent, and inventiveness to use as the proprietor of a mattress factory with the patent for a cotton mattress. She participated in the 1883 Chicago World’s Fair with her own stand. Her notes and records, which were kept by the family in an old tea chest, were published in 1989 by her relatives, the author Ulla Dahlerup and Bent Dahlerup.