She was born near Fredrikshald, now Halden in Østfold county, Norway. Her parents were Paul Fredrik Birkenbusch Prydz (1810–1908) a merchant and customs inspector and Andersine Nicoline Lund (1815–1899). She grew up in a large group of children on the farm of Tosterød Fredrikshald. The family moved to Christiania, where Alvilde studies at the local the schools. When she was19 years old, she earned her first post as a governess in the family of a priest in Telemark. Between 1866-67, she attended a local girl's school (Nissens Pigeskoles Guvernantekurs). When the priest and his family moved to Hitra in Sør-Trøndelag county, she went there for three years of work and self-study.
In 1880, she gained some attention by the story Agn og Agnar (1880). In 1884, she met in Copenhagen with writer Amalie Skram, who encouraged her. After the publication of I Moll (1885) she received a government stipend and traveled in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. The bulk of her published writing appeared in the 1890s. She won popularity and her works were translated into several languages. Her work has appeared in English=language editions, most notably The Heart of the Northern Sea (1907) and Sanpriel: the Promised Land (1914).