Maia Wojciechowska was born on August 7, 1927, in Warsaw, Poland. She came to the United States in 1942 with her parents and two brothers when her father received an assignment as air attache to the Polish Embassy. Wojciechowska attended schools in Poland, France, and England, graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1945, and attended Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles from 1945 to 1946. After moving from Los Angeles to New York, she met author Selden Rodman, who encouraged her in the craft of writing. They married in 1950 and spent time in Haiti, where she wrote her first published book for young readers, Market Day for 'Ti Andre. She and Rodman divorced in 1957, and Wojciechowska married Richard Larkin, a poet and antique dealer, in 1970. Their marriage ended in 1981.
In 1960 and 1961, while Wojciechowska operated her own literary agency and was publicity manager of Hawthorn Books, she began writing in earnest. Shadow of a Bull, the result of this concentration, was a New York Herald Tribune Children's Spring Book Festival Awards honor book in 1964 and won both the Newbery Medal in 1965 and the Deutscher Jugenbuchpreis in 1968. This success made it possible for Wojciechowska to devote all her time to writing and traveling. She has published adult fiction and poetry as well as drama for television. In addition to her native Polish, Wojciechowska speaks several other languages—French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, and English—and has translated books from Polish to English. When she is not traveling, she resides in Sante Fe, New Mexico.