Anny Wothe was born Anna Auguste Elise Wothe in Berlin, Germany to an artisanal family. She attended the Französische Domschule Berlin (French Huguenot school) for a while, until her family fell into financial difficulties. She began writing essays and short stories as a way to earn income. In 1881, she went to work as a journalist and writer in Leipzig. The following year, she founded the women's periodical Deutsche Frauenblätter, which she edited until selling it in 1885. She then married Adolf Mahn, a bookseller and fellow writer. In 1888, she and her husband founded the weekly Von Haus zu Haus, which they ran until 1906. She also was a prolific and successful writer of popular literature for more than 30 years, becoming one of the most widely-read female writers of her day. She also presided over an acclaimed literary and artistic salon at her home in Leipzig.