Esther Rudomin wa born in Vilna, then part of Poland, to a Jewish family. In World War II, her father was drafted into the Russian Army, while Esther, her mother, and her grandparents were deported by the Soviets to Siberian forced labor camps. They spent five grueling years there and her grandfather died. After the war, Esther emigrated to the USA, settling in New York. After attending high school and college, she became a secretary in a publishing company and began promoting and writing books for children. In 1950, she married Walter Hautzig, a Viennese-born pianist whom she had met on the ship coming to America. Encouraged by Adlai Stevenson, Esther Hautzig started writing books on her childhood and on survival during the Holocaust, based on her own and her family's ordeal, that became classics of young people’s literature. She also translated stories by the Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz.