Marie-Louise Roth, née Zimmermann, was born in Alsace (then part of France) to French-German teachers Gérard and Marie-Thérèse Zimmermann. She had a happy childhood and attended schools in Bischwiller and Haguenau. During the German Occupation of World War II, in 1942, at age 16, she and her parents were arrested by the Nazis, because her father was suspected of being pro-French, and sent to a "re-education" camp at Schelklingen in Württemberg, Germany. They survived forced labor and were liberated in 1945. She returned to Alsace and studied at the University of Nancy and the University of Strasbourg. In 1953, she acquired the agrégation (civil service teaching certificate) and taught first at the Lycée in Epinal, then at the Collège in Forbach. The following year, she joined the faculty of the University of Saarland in Saarbrücken, Germany where she worked for the next 40 years. She wrote works in both French and German and dedicated most of her research to the study of the Austrian-born writer Robert Musil. In 1953, she married Ernest Roth, with whom she had three children. In 1964, she was appointed a professor of German language and literature in the French Department. In 1976, she completed a doctoral degree at the University of Strasbourg with a thesis on Robert Musil. She had previously founded in Vienna the International Robert Musil Society, which she served as president. She was appointed Professor of Modern German Literature at Saarland in 1976 and retired in 1992. Her memoir Je me souviens de Schelklingen (I Remember Schelklingen) was published in 2001.