Helga Michie was born (Helga Aichinger) into a Jewish family in Linz, Austria on 1 November 1921; her twin sister is the author Ilse Aichinger. Following their parents’ divorce, the sisters settled in Vienna with their mother but following the Anschluss (annexation of Austria), Helga fled to her aunt in London in July 1939 as part of the Kindertransport, first living in a convent overlooking the Freuds' back garden; she was not reunited with her sister (who remained in Austria) until 1947.

In England, she completed her schooling, then married and had a daughter, Ruth, in 1942. She was a member of the Austrian Centre and met the émigré artists Hilde Spiel, Anna Mahler (who sculpted her), Erich Fried and the writer Elias Canetti. Initially, she worked in factories, as a waitress, and as a secretary, then, after the war, also as an actress, with a supporting part in the film, 'The Third Man' (1949). Later, she worked as a German-English translator, including of texts by her sister Ilse, who encouraged Helga to become a visual artist in the mid-1960s. She produced graphic work, focusing on themes of persecution and displacement. Her rare exhibitions included one at Ingrid Barron in Hampstead in 1988 and another in Germany in the same year; she published a volume of etchings and poems in English in 2006. Helga Michie died in London, England on 27 September 2018 and a memorial symposium was held at Senate House, the University of London on 17 January 2019. Her daughter, Ruth, is also a visual artist.