Irmgard Keun was born in Berlin in 1905 and found instant success with her novels Gilgi (1931) and The Artificial Silk Girl (1932). Everything changed in 1933 when the Nazis blacklisted her and destroyed her books; in response, she attempted to sue the Gestapo for loss of earnings. She left Germany (and her husband) in 1936 and lived in exile in Europe, where she wrote Child of All Nations (1936) and After Midnight (1937). She sneaked back into Germany in 1940 under a false name and spent the rest of the war in Cologne. In later years, she wrote for magazines and radio and raised a daughter alone. She died in 1982.