Adda Ravnkilde was born and grew up in a middle-class family in the provinces, but was schooled in Copenhagen at Natalie Zahle’s school from 1874 to 1876. At the age of eighteen, she worked briefly as a governess, subsequently spending the next few years at home in Sæby, where she experienced the painful conflict of the female artist torn between the need for self-realisation through creative work on the one hand and erotic love on the other. In 1883 she travelled to Copenhagen to become a schoolmistress and to seek out Georg Brandes, to whom she sent her manuscripts.
Her life came to a tragic end when she committed suicide at the age of twenty-one. After her death, Georg Brandes ensured that her three – curtailed – manuscripts were published. In her novel about marriage, Judith Fürste, 1884, revolving around two emotionally retentive characters, both the female psychology and the sensitivity of the language to the atomised moment and its horror are artistically groundbreaking. En Pyrrhussejr and Tantaluskvaler, which were published collectively in 1884 under the title To Fortællinger, describe the female individual’s loss of self in marriage and in seduction, a loss which in Tantaluskvaler is put down to being a precondition for the birth of the women writer.