Charles Farkas was born in 1925 in Budapest, Hungary. In 1949, he earned a double doctorate in law and political science from the University of Pázmány Péter. After the failure of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, Farkas fled to the United States, where he received a master's in library science from Columbia University. He went on to become director of the Briarcliff Manor Public Library, where he worked from 1968 until his retirement in 1996. He and his wife, Edit, live in Chappaqua, New York. They have four children and, as of early 2013, four grandchildren.