Teréza Lanhausová was born in Prague into a Czech-German family. She studied foreign languages and became fluent in English and German. In 1876, she married Jan Novak, a professor at a gymnasium, and the couple had several children. Teréza Nováková had a lifelong interest in local history, arts, politics, and culture; she collected folk costumes, embroidery, and ceramics. After the deaths of her husband and all but one of her children, Teréza went to live in eastern Bohemia to conduct ethnographic studies and write books. She was active in the women's emancipation movement and for over three decades (1875 to 1908) she edited the feminist journal Zensky svet (Woman’s World).