Walter Serner was born Walter Eduard Seligmann in Carlsbad, Bohemia (then Austria-Hungary, now Czech Republic). In 1913 he studied promotion law in the Austro-Hungarian capital of Vienna and completed his doctorate in the University of Greifswald.
With the outbreak of World War I, he escaped to Switzerland in 1914 and participated in Dada activities in Zürich, Geneva, and Paris until 1920. During World War I he was the editor of the magazines Sirius and Zeltweg and a writer for Die Aktion. In 1921 Serner stayed in Italy with the artist Christian Schad. Beginning in 1923 he began living in various European cities, including Barcelona, Bern, Vienna, Carlsbad, and Prague.
From 1925, Serner became the target of anti-Semitism. Serner had been born Jewish and had converted to Catholicism in 1913.
In 1938 Serner married his partner Dorothea Herz in Prague, where he was working as a private teacher. When war broke out, they had no chance to escape from the occupied country. In 1942 he and his wife were interned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp and three weeks later were moved in the direction of "the East", where they perished in Riga.
Walter Serner's most successful novel Die Tigerin (The Tigress) was made into an English-language feature film by writer/director Karin Howard and released in 1992. At that time the novel was re-published in Germany where Serner's books enjoy a cult following. The film was shot in Berlin and Carlsbad.
- Drews, Joerg (14 January 1989), "Sprich nicht zu oft zynisch, sei wie immer! Zum 100. Geburtstag Walter Serners", Süddeutsche Zeitung: 11