Petersen came from a well off family of pharmacists in Frankfurt (Oder). Shortly after her birth, Petersen developed a chronically deformed spinal curvature, and orthopedic institutions in Berlin were unable to correct the condition. Marie lived modestly and withdrawn and received a well-rounded education, earning her the esteem of her contemporaries.
Because of her illness, Marie rarely left her hometown.
In 1851 she made one journey in the Harz mountains, the catalyst for her literary activity. A travel letter she had sent to a relative under the title Prinzessin Ilse was published anonymously in 1852 as A Fairy Tale from the Harz Mountains.
The story was widely successful, but Petersen"s identity as the author only appeared in the twelfth edition, this time published with an additional tale. lieutenant was also translated into both English and French.
Marie did not live to see the great success of her two stories.
She died in 1859 after a slight inflammation took proved too much for her weak body.