Micheline Maurel was born in Toulon, the eldest of six children of Edouard Maurel, a French radio pioneer. She was educated at the Lycée Bonaparte, where she earned prizes every year, and then pursued university studies in classics in Lyon and Aix-en-Provence. In 1942, during the Nazi Occupation of France in World War II, she joined the French Resistance. She was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. She survived there for 20 months before being liberated by Red Army troops in April 1945, though her health was permanently damaged. After the war, she returned to Toulon and resumed work as a literature teacher before becoming a translator for the World Health Organization and the International Red Cross. In the 1950s, she began publishing books that included Un camp très ordinaires (1957), with a preface by François Mauriac, one of the first memoirs of the concentration camp. She also wrote poetry and children's stories. Her autobiographical novel, La vie normal (Normal Life, 1958) was adapted into a French film. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and was made a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur.