Born on 4 November 1922 in Piotrków Trybunalski; daughter of the officer of the Second Brigade of the Polish Legions, Polish Army major and lawyer Jerzy Żmigrodzki, and the office clerk Zofia, née Majewska. Owing to her father's occupation, she often moved home during childhood, spending time in various garrisons in the eastern borderlands of interwar Poland. Following her father's death in 1933, she and her mother moved to Warsaw where she initially attended the Narcyza Żmichowska Grammar School. In September 1939, she was a volunteer at Wola Hospital in the city. During the German occupation, she attended secret lessons at the Maria Konopnicka Grammar School, completing her advanced secondary education there in 1940. At the same time, she worked as a clerk for a private trading company. Between 1942 and 1944, she studied Polish philology at the underground University of the Western Lands (Uniwersytet Ziem Zachodnich) in Warsaw and law at the underground University of Warsaw (UW). She was involved in conspiratorial activities; as a member of the Home Army (AK), she served in the Women's Sapper Patrols of the Warsaw district of the Directorate of Diversion (Kedyw), which was engaged in sabotage actions (using the pseudonyms Minerka and Maryśka)[P]. She was not involved in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, as she and her unit had been previously sent to mine bridges outside the city. After the end of the war, she lived in Lodz. She continued her studies in Polish philology at the University of Lodz (UŁ), graduating with a master's degree in 1948. She was a member of the Życie (Life) Academic Union of Fighting Youth. In 1947, she worked for a short period as a typist at the State Repatriation Authority (PUR) in Lodz. That year, she made her debut with the article O „Poemacie pedagogicznym" Makarenki (On Makarenko's "Pedagogical Poem"), which appeared in the biweekly "Kuźnica" (no. 41). She continued to publish literary history articles there through 1948. Between 1947 and 1953, she worked for the rural-themed weekly "Wieś", initially as a proofreader and then, following the publication's move to Warsaw in 1949, as head of its literary criticism section. She published articles and reviews in the periodical until 1952. She was active in the Union of Polish Youth (ZMP) from 1948 to 1950. She was employed at the Institute of Literary Research (IBL) from 1948, initially as a research assistant and then from 1952 as a lecturer. In 1951, she was appointed deputy head and then in 1953 head of the Section for the History of Polish Romantic-era Literature (which later became the Department of the History of Polish Romantic Literature and then the Department of Romantic Literature), remaining in this post until 1991. In parallel, between 1949 and 1951, she lectured on the history of literature at the Party School of the Central Committee of Polish United Workers' Party (the ruling PZPR), while in 1949/50 she lectured at UW. Her research concentrated on the history of Positivist and Romantic literature, with a particular focus on the history of ideas and questions related to historicism, various aspects of Romantic realism, and irony. She published articles and essays in academic journals, including "Pamiętnik Literacki", while in 1957/58 she contributed a regular column, Sprawy, które wracają… (Recurrent themes...) to the literary periodical "Życie Literackie". She was a member of the ruling PZPR from 1952 to 1981. In 1953, she joined the Scientific Council of the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBL PAN). In 1954, she was appointed deputy professor by IBL, while in 1955 she was made a candidate in philology (equivalent to a PhD), for her study Estetyka Edwarda Dembowskiego (Edward Dembowski's Aesthetics). She was supervised by Prof. Stefan Żółkiewski. She gave a series of lectures on Adam Mickiewicz in Yugoslavia in 1955 . She was appointed senior lecturer at IBL PAN in 1957. She received a research fellowship from the Ministry of Higher Education in 1958/59, enabling her to spend one year in Paris. From 1959, she was also head of the Department of Literary Theory at the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University (UMCS) in Lublin, before being removed for political reasons in 1968. She was made associate professor in 1963. She was a member of the editorial committee of IBL PAN's publication series Z Dziejów Form Artystycznych w Literaturze Polskiej (On the History of Artistic Forms in Polish Literature; 1964-69) and the edited volume Obraz literatury polskiej XIX i XX wieku (Images of 19th and 20th-century Polish Literature; to 1968). She also edited three series of Problemy polskiego romantyzmu (Problems in Polish Romanticism; published 1971-81), while from 1979 she was editor-in-chief of the IBL series Historia i Teoria Literatury. Studia (The History and Theory of Literature: Studies). From 1966, she was a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences' Committee on Literary Studies (KNoL). Between 1977 and 1991, she lectured and gave doctoral seminars on Polish Romantic literature at the Institute of Polish Philology of the Jagiellonian University (UJ) in Krakow. In 1983, she was a visiting lecturer at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France. During her time in France, she was an extramural student at the Sorbonne (Université Paris Sorbonne – Paris IV). She joined the Polish Writers' Association (SPP) in 1989. She was appointed full professor in 1991 before retiring from IBL PAN the following year. She remained active as a researcher and lecturer. From 1993 to 1996, she lectured on the history of Romantic literature at UW. She received the Gold Cross of Merit in 1956. She died on 21 February 2000 in Warsaw and is buried at the city's Powązki Cemetery.
1. Eliza Orzeszkowa. [Szkic]. [Warszawa:] Czytelnik 1951, 53 s.
2. Podstawowe cechy Mickiewiczowskiej ballady. [Szkic]. Warszawa 1955, 89 s., powielone. Materiały dyskusyjne Komisji Naukowej Obchodu Roku Mickiewicza. Polska Akademia Nauk Sekcja Historii Literatury i Języka.
3. Edward Dembowski i polska krytyka romantyczna. [Monografia]. Redakcja naukowa: H. Markiewicz. [Przedmowa:] T. Kroński. Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy 1957, XV, 418 s. Polska Akademia Nauk Instytut Badań Literackich.
4. Z zagadnień prozy narracyjnej Juliusza Słowackiego. („Król Ladawy”, czyli o rewolucji konserwatywnej). [Szkic]. Warszawa: Druk Organizacja , 28 s., powielone. Rok Słowackiego 1809-1859. Przedruk pt. O prozie narracyjnej Słowackiego zob. poz. .
5. Orzeszkowa. Młodość pozytywizmu. [Studium]. Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy 1966, 499 s.
6. Romantyzm i historia. [Studia; współautorka:] M. Janion. Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy 1978, 638 s. Z prac Instytutu Badań Literackich Polskiej Akademii Nauk. Wyd. nast. Gdańsk: słowo/obraz terytoria 2001, 712 s.
7. Odyseja wychowania. Goetheańska wizja człowieka w „Latach nauki i wędrówki Wilhelma Meistra.” [Studium; współautorki:]. M. Janion, M. Żmigrodzka. Kraków: Aureus 1998, 423 s.
8. Przez wieki idąca powieść. Wybór pism o literaturze XIX i XX wieku. Pod red. M. Kalinowskiej i E. Kiślak. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Instytutu Badań Literackich Polskiej Akademii Nauk 2002, 522 s.
9. Romantyzm i egzystencja. Fragmenty niedokończonego dzieła. [Szkice; współautorka:] M. Janion. Gdańsk: słowo/obraz terytoria 2004, 215 s.