Abstract Charlotte Auerbach, the acknowledged discoverer of chemical mutagenesis, faced many challenges growing up and beginning her career in Germany. In the 1930s she moved to Scotland, completed her doctorate and spent the rest of her career at the University of Edinburgh. She had many scientific successes there, and was eventually provided with her own research group called the Mutagenesis Research Unit, where she continued to be very productive and a leader in her field. This article provides a somewhat abbreviated summary of her early life, struggles, and scientific career and achievements. It concludes with the author's personal memories and anecdotes from a productive and enjoyable year as a visitor on sabbatical in her laboratory.