Elisabeth Augustin was born in Friedenau, a suburb of Berlin, to Eduard Joseph Glaser, a Roman Catholic, and his wife Ella Cohn, a Jew. She grew up in Leipzig and Berlin. She began writing as a child and by age 20 had published poetry and short stories in local newspapers. In 1927, she married Paul Felix Augustin, raised in the Netherlands, with whom she had two children. Her first novel, Der Ausgestoßene (The Outcast), was accepted for publication in 1933 but not released because of the rise to power of the Nazi regime in Germany. Later that year, she and her family left Germany for the Netherlands. Her own Dutch translation of the novel was published as De Uitgestootene in 1935. She published three more novels in Dutch by 1938. She also wrote poetry, short stories and radio plays. The family survived in Amsterdam during the German Occupation of World War II, but her mother was deported and murdered at the Nazi extermination camp at Sobibor. In response to her mother's death, she wrote the novel Labyrint in 1955. In 1992, she received the Goethe Medal of the Goethe Institute.