Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová was born to a middle-class family in Vyškov, Moravia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She grew up in the nearby town of Haná and moved with her family to Brno in 1913.
In 1919, she began studying painting and drawing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Upon graduating, she received a government scholarship to study modern printmaking in Paris. It was there that she discovered the woodcut novels of the Flemish artist Frans Masereel, who greatly influenced her future work.
Between 1924 and 1930, she had regular exhibitions at the Salon in Paris, as well exhibiting in Europe, the USA, and South America prior to World War II. Her first novel, Z Mého Dětství (From My Childhood), published in 1929, is today considered to be the first graphic novel published by a woman.