Her mother was a Norwegian circus artist and her father a stable master. Her mother later on had a relationship with the circus director John Madigan and at 9 years old Elvira started as a line dancer at his circus (Madigan). She performed with a bit of an older girl and together they became famous. Elvira also, later on, became a horse rider at the circus.
The Danish king was so impressed with Elvira and the other girl, Gisella, that he gave the girls, known as The Madigan sisters - the air's daughters a golden cross - each in 1886.
In 1888 though Elvira met the Swedish lieutenant and count: Sixten Sparre, and fell in love. He was married and had two children so they started to meet in secrecy and exchange letters. One year later Elvira got a letter from Sixten telling her he was divorced and waiting for her not far from where she was with the circus. They eloped.
Sixten tried to get money from friends and family to sustain their living but he was already in debt so they said no. Unfortunately Elvira and Sixten couldn't marry due to their different social statuses. The couple saw no escape than death, he was wanted for desertion and she had escaped from the circus where she was the main attraction.
On 20th of July 1889 they went for a forest stroll with a picnic basket. Sixten first shot Elvira and then himself. They're buried by Landet kirke in Tåsinge (Denmark).