Torfhildur was born at
KálfafellsstaðurAustur-Skaftafellssýsla), where her father, Þorsteinn Einarson, was a clergyman. She went to Reykjavík at age 17 and studied there and in Copenhagen and worked as a private teacher before marrying Jakob Hólm when she was 29. He died a year later and in 1876 she emigrated to Canada, where she lived in New Iceland and Winnipeg for 13 years. After working as a teacher for a number of years, she returned to Iceland in 1889 and two years later was granted a writer's pension by the Althing, the first woman to receive such artistic support; there was disagreement about the appropriateness of the award and it was reduced and ultimately made part of her widow's pension. She died in Reykjavík.
in Skaftafellssýsla (now in