Diane Wolkstein was born in Newark, New Jersey on November 11, 1942. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College and a master's degree in education from Bank Street College in New York. She later spent several years in Paris, where she worked as a teacher and studied mime. She worked as New York City's official storyteller from 1967 to 1971. Her radio show, Stories from Many Lands, was broadcast on WNYC from 1968 until 1980. She also helped create the Storytelling Center of New York City, which trains thousands of volunteers and sends them into the city's public schools and libraries. She wrote more than 20 books during her lifetime including Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth with Samuel Noah Kramer and Esther's Story. She died while undergoing emergency surgery for a heart condition on January 31, 2012 at the age of 70.