Heda Margolius Kovály was born Heda Bloch in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She married her childhood sweetheart, Rudolf Margolius. In 1941, after Nazi Germany invaded her homeland in World War II, she and her family were sent to the Łódź Ghetto in Poland. From the ghetto, they were deported to the death camp at Auschwitz. There her parents were murdered, and she was selected to work in the forced labor camp at Christianstadt. As the Red Army approached from the East in 1945, the prisoners were forced on a death march to Bergen-Belsen. Heda escaped and returned to Prague, where she was eventually reunited with her husband. In 1952, he was unjustly convicted of conspiracy during the notorious Slánský trial and executed. As the wife of an "enemy of the people," Heda lost her job and her apartment, and was then shunned for being unemployed and homeless. For as long as the Communist Party remained in power, she did not dare tell her son Ivan Margolius the truth about what had happened to his father. In 1955, she remarried to Pavel Kovály, a lecturer in philosophy. Under his surname, she became a well-known translator of works in German and English into the Czech language, including works by Arnold Zweig, Heinrich Böll, Raymond Chandler, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Muriel Spark, William Golding, John Steinbeck, and H.G. Wells. When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia after the "Prague Spring" of 1968, the couple fled to the USA. She worked for years as a reference librarian at the Harvard University Law School. Her own memoir, Na vlastní kůži (English translation, Under A Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941–1968; originally known as The Victors and the Vanquished; in the UK first as I Do Not Want to Remember and in 1988 as Prague Farewell) was originally published in 1973. It has been republished several times and translated into many languages, including Chinese, Danish, Romanian, German, Dutch, Norwegian, and Japanese. She also wrote a detective novel called Nevina (Innocence, 1985). She and her second husband returned to Prague in 1996 to retire. She participated in the making of the documentary film A Trial in Prague, directed by Zuzana Justman.