Marie Christine Zeggelen was born in The Hague, Netherlands, and grew up in an artistic household. Her parents were the popular humorous poet and printer Wilhelmus Josephus van Seggellen (who wrote as W.J. van Zeggelen), and his wife Constance Henriette Mastenbroek, a painter. At age 14, she took classes at the Royal Academy of Arts, where she focused on painting. She worked in the studio of painter-etcher Philip Zilcken. In 1890, after a brief courtship, she married Adrianus Herman Kooij, a young officer in the Dutch East Indies Army. A month later, the couple left for the Dutch East Indies -- now Indonesia -- aboard the ship Prins Hendrik, which was shipwrecked en route in the Bay of Biscay, an event she later described in her book Accidents (1928). They traveled frequently between posts, living on Borneo and many places on Java over the next 26 years. She grew unhappy with colonial military life and homesick. In 1897, she had a baby son who died as a newborn, and was told she would never have any more children. She began writing children's stories for her niece back in Holland, publishing the first in 1901. In 1906, she accompanied her husband to Celebes (Sulawesi), where he was named acting lieutenant governor. She had her first contact with the native population and studied their customs, traditions and legends. She was happy in the country for the first time and was sorry to leave the island in 1907, when her husband had to go back to Java. She became active in a number of organizations for the development of the Indonesian people, and taught preschoolers and toddlers at the army school. She continued to write and publish stories in the local publications, and her first book, Jong Java's lief en leed (Young Java's Joys and Sorrows) appeared in the Netherlands in 1904. From 1909 to 1913, she edited the magazine Geïllustreerd Weekblad. In 1916, she returned to the Netherlands, and became editor of the women's magazine De Hollandsche Lelie. After a divorce in 1921, she relied on her writing to support herself, and produced many children's books, historical novels, and plays over the next 32 years. She also continued to write regularly about Indonesia.