Clara Goldschmidt was born in Paris and grew up in the suburb of Auteuil in a prosperous family of German-Jewish immigrants. She was bilingual and well-read in both German and French literature. In 1920, she worked for the avant-garde magazine Action as a translator, and got to know artists and writers like Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Louis Aragon, and the young André Malraux. Against the wishes of her family, Clara married Malraux in 1924. They lived in French Indochina and published an anti-colonial newspaper in Saigon. In the 1930s, they were anti-fascist activists involved in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republic and assisting refugees from the East in France. After the German invastion of France during World War II, Clara Malraux fled Paris for Vichy with the couple's daughter and had to stay on the run to avoid arrest. She became a member of the French Resistance and took on dangerous assignments such as passing forged documents. She said later in her 6-volume autobiography that her struggles to save her child and her Resistance work enabled her to become her own person, courageous and confident. She also met a new love, Gérard Krazat, a German anti-fascist and Communist, who was caught and killed by the Gestapo. After the war, Clara and André Malraux divorced and she returned to Paris to begin a career as a writer and translator. Her short stories and novels drew heavily on her personal experiences. In 1950, she married Jean Duvignaud, a writer, with whom she worked on the journal Contemporains. During the student uprisings in May 1968, at the age of 70, she campaigned alongside students in Nanterre.