Lagerlöf was the daughter of retired Lieutenant Erik Gustaf Lagerlöf and the teacher Louise Lagerlöf née Wallroth.
Selma Lagerlöf was born with an inherent hip injury. This early sickness left her lame in both legs. At the age of three the future writer was seriously ill. She was paralyzed and bed-ridden. Her only entertainment during that time was listening to the fairytales, local legends and family chronicles, which were told by her grandmother and aunt Nana. Selma moved to Stockholm in 1867 for medical treatment, and then she got the ability to move. The sale of Mårbacka, the family estate where she was born and raised, which followed her father’s illness in 1884 had influence on her development.