Julius Berstl was born on August 6, 1883 in Bernburg, Germany to a theatrical family. His father, Norbert Berstl, and his mother, Franziska Schreiner Berstl, were both actors and later directors in the 1870s-1890s. His mother had also come from a theatrical family, and her own mother and father had been actors and directors in German theater during the 1850s and 1860s.
As a child he attended the Kaiser Wilhelm II Realschule in Gottingen and the Oberrealschule in Kassel. It was there that he first began to write poetry, short stories, and plays, often engaging in student-run productions. It was during this period that he first began to seriously explore the world of theater and writing. He studied German and English literature at the Georg August-Universitat in Gottingen until April 1902 and then the Universitat Leipzig from April 1903 until March 1908. Upon graduation, he became the dramaturg, or literary advisor, of the renowned Barnowsky Theaters in Berlin from 1909-1924. Like many others his age, Berstl took leave from his job in the theater from 1916-1918 to fight in the German army during World War I, but returned when the war was over. His brother Willi also fought in World War I, and was a prisoner of war in Great Britain until around 1919. From 1924-1936, Berstl worked as dramaturg for the Berlin Gustav Kiepenheuer Theaters. During this period, Berstl wrote two of his most well-known plays: "Chu the Sinner" and "Dover-Calais." This was an especially productive period in Berstl's career, and both of these major works became popular outside of Germany; "Dover-Calais" was even made into a film.
But with the rise of Hitler and the increasing restrictions on the creative arts, Berstl emigrated in 1936 to England. For a period of time directly following his emigration, he worked on producing an English version of "Dover-Calais," working with popular English children's author Eleanor Farjeon. In 1943 he became a scriptwriter for the London BBC, for which he wrote over 60 radio dramas, mostly with Biblical themes that reappear later in his novels. While in England, Berstl also worked as a German/English translator, writing German versions of plays by authors like Noel Coward, Jean Copard, St. John Ervine, Aimee Stuart, and Archibald Norman Menzies. He retired from his work at the BBC in 1951 and moved to New York City, where he began to write novels in earnest. During this period, he wrote novels based upon the life of St. Paul, an imaginary memoir of Edmund Kean, and an autobiographical tale of his life in the theater. His wife told him that after she died he should move to Santa Barbara; after she passed away in 1964, he kept with her wishes and moved. He lived in Santa Barbara, continuously sending in new manuscripts to publishers and coming up with business ideas, until he too passed away in 1975.