Janina David was born Janina Dawidowicz, the only child of a Polish Jewish family. When she was nine years old, at the outbreak of World War II, they moved from her small town of Kalisza near the German border to Warsaw, which was thought to be safer for Jews. They ended up trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1943, her parents managed to smuggle her out of the Ghetto. She took refuge with a German-Polish family and then in a Roman Catholic convent. She survived the war and learned that her parents had been killed. She left Poland in 1946 and moved to Paris with an uncle. She then emigrated to Australia, where she completed high school and earned a B.A. at the University of Melbourne. In 1958, she moved to London, where she employed as a hospital-based social worker. In 1959, she began to write her three-volume autobiography, A Square of Sky (adapted into a successful German film), A Touch of Earth, and Light over the Water. Since 1978, she has worked as an full-time writer and translator of books for children and young adults, and radio plays for the BBC and others.