Esta Ellis, the youngest of three daughters, was born on 23 July 1945 in Struisbaai where her parents, Hennie and Hettie Ellis, were the owners of the old boarding house. The Ellis family moved to Montagu in 1948 and to Worcester seven years later, where Esta matriculated from the Girls’ High School in 1963.
She went to work in her father’s furniture factory and sawmill as a bookkeeper. Her first short story was published when she was nineteen. Numerous short stories and sketches for Sarie and Huisgenoot followed. In 1969 she married a pharmacist, Le Roux Steyn, and moved to Saldanha, where the Steyn family still lives.