Madeline Brandeis was born in San Francisco and attended Miss Burke’s School. In 1918, she married E. John Brandeis and had a daughter. In 1933, she married her second husband, Joseph A. Sampson, with whom she lived in New York City. She began her writing career at a time when children's literature was exploding in popularity in the USA, and became best known for her Children of America and Children of All Lands series of books. Most of the books were illustrated with photographs taken by the author on her extensive travels around the world. She also founded The Little Players' Film Company, with offices in New York and Chicago, and produced eight silent films with casts composed almost entirely of children. She wrote and directed the feature film The Star Prince (1918), released in 1920 as Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star. She died in New Mexico in 1937 of injuries sustained in a car accident.