Ilse Gräfin von Bredow was born in Silesia to an aristocratic German family. Her parents were Sigismund Graf von Bredow and his wife Ursula von Lieres und Wilkau im Forsthaus. She grew up in Brandenburg and was educated at boarding school. During World War II, she served in the Reich Labor Service. Shortly before the end of the war, her family fled west from their home to Lower Saxony. She lived in Hamburg from the 1950s. She worked as a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines and wrote numerous novels, short stories, and memoirs. Her bestselling 1979 book, Kartoffeln mit Stippe (Potatoes with Gravy), was adapted into a television movie in 1990.