Alma Johanna Koenig was born to a Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her father Karl Koenig was an officer in the Imperial Army. She grew up in Vienna, where she attended a girls' secondary school. She published her first book, a volume of poetry entitled Die Windsbraut, in 1918, using the pen name Johannes Herdan. In 1921, she married Bernhard Ehrenfels, an Austrian diplomat. Her first novel, Der heilige Palast (The Sacred Palace, 1922) made her famous and caused controversy because of its erotic content. Her historical novel Die Geschichte von Half, dem Weibe (The Story of Half, the Woman, 1924), won the City of Vienna Literary Prize. In 1925, she accompanied her husband to his post in Algiers. The experience led to her semi-autobiographical, psychological novel Leidenschaft in Algier (Passion in Algiers, 1932). In 1930, she separated from her husband and returned to Vienna. There she began a relationship with Oskar Jan Tauschinski, a Polish-born student who later became a writer, and moved in literary circles. After the Nazi Anschluss (annexation) of Austria in 1938, she was deprived of her citizenship and evicted from her apartment. She tried several times to flee the country but in 1942, was arrested by the Nazis and deported to the extermination camp of Maly Trostinez near Minsk, where she was killed. Several more of her books were published posthumously. Tauschinski, her literary executor, established the Alma-Johanna-König-Preis in her memory in 1957.