Provenance and early years
Ellen Trane Nørby was born in Herning, a midsized manufacturing and administrative town in the centre of Jutland. She grew up in Nørre Nissum, a large village on the edge of Lemvig along country's west coast. Jørgen Andreas Nørby, her father, is a biologist and secondary school teacher who served as municipal mayor of Lemvig between 1998 and 2006.  Her mother is an architect. Nørby attended school in Nørre Nissum between 1985 and 1995, then moving on to the Gymnasium (Upper School) at Lemwig. She enrolled at Copenhagen University where from 1998 she studied Art History, with a side module between 1999 and 2001 on political sciences. She concluded her university level studies in 2005 with a "Master of Arts" degree.
She joined the Venstre party and its youth organisation in 1995. In 1999 she became vice-president of the European Liberal Youth organisation comprising, for the most part, the youth wings of members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party. Between 2002 and 2004 she was the association president.  In 2004 she stood for election to the European parliament.  Her 24,380 votes were not sufficient to win her a seat in the assembly, however.
She stood for election to the national parliament in 2005. Venstre had been in power as the largest party in a coalition government since 2001, and although their support slipped in 2005 they remained the largest party. Nørby won 5,073 votes which was enough to secure her a seat in parliament. She became her party's spokesperson for culture and the arts. Support for Venstre slipped again in 2007, but they were still, by a small margin, the largest party. Nørby's own support increased to 12,804 votes in her South Jutland electoral district. In this parliamentary session her focus was on social issues and gender equality. Her vote level increased again in 2011, this time to 18,059 votes. This was the highest number of votes received by any of the Venstre candidates in 2011.  Her 12,012 votes in the 2015 election were again comfortably more than were won by most (if, this time, not quite all) of her fellow Venstre candidates.  Between 2006 and her first ministerial appointment, in 2015, Ellen Trane Nørby was her party's spokesperson on "new media" questions.
On 28 June 2015 she was appointed Minister for Children, Education and Equality in the Lars Løkke Rasmussen minority government formed that year. On 28 November 2016, when that government was replaced by the Lars Løkke Rasmussen coalition government, she was transferred to the Ministry of Health. 
In Autumn 2012, as an opposition spokesperson, Ellen Trane Nørby submitted 696 parliamentary questions to Uffe Elbæk, the Minister for Culture and The Arts. This performance earned Nørby the soubriquet "Spørge-Ellen" ("Questions Ellen") from the mass-market tabloid newspaper BT. 
A more negative press encounter came about in January 2013 when the BT journalist Lars Fogt reported the allegation that student supporters working for Nørby had made more than thirty changes to her Danish Wikipedia entry since March 2011.  She reacted promptly and fiercely, asserting that she was being subjected to a "journalistic campaign of personal hatred" from the tabloid BT, which was then being picked up and reported without critical evaluation by other press outlets.
Ellen Trane Nørby is married and has a daughter.
In 2004, jointly with Trine Pertou Mach, she published a cookery book with the title "Smag på Europe – med honning og chili" (loosely: "Taste of Europe - with honey and chili" ). She also writes regular political columns for the magazine Ræson.