Claire Hirschberg was born in 1914 into a middle-class Jewish family in Berlin. In 1934 the family moved to China, first living in Shanghai and then in Nanking, a city they had to evacuate after the Japanese invasion of 1937. In 1938 the Hirschbergs settled in Peking, where Claire worked as secretary to Franz Weidenreich, a German anthropologist and the director of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory, which was closely involved in the Peking Man excavation. She was still there in 1941, when the bones of the Peking Man were packed up, and may have been one of the last people in the world to ever see the Peking Man bones. In 1944 Claire Hirschberg married Edgar Taschdjian, an Austrian-born Armenian with an Italian passport, and in 1948 the two of them moved to Chicago, where Edgar Taschdjian had a teaching job. Claire and Edgar Taschdjian taught at the St. Francis College in Brooklyn; she retired in the mid-1970s and wrote The Peking Man Is Missing, her first novel, at the age of 63. Taschdjian died in 1998.