Henrike Lähnemann grew up in three medieval German towns that shaped her interest in medieval literature and religion: Münster, Lüneburg and Nürnberg. She studied German literature, History of Art and Theology at the Universität Bamberg, and After a PhD on late medieval didactic literature, Lähnemann worked at the Universität Tübingen, where she gained her Venia legendi in German Philology with a study of the Book of Judith in German medieval literature. She spent a year as a Feodor Lynen Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and a semester as Visiting Professor at the Universität Zürich. Between 2006 and 2014 she held the Chair of German Studies at Newcastle University, and was also Head of the German Section in Newcastle's School of Modern Languages. Since 2015 she holds the Chair of Medieval German Language and Literature at the University of Oxford.
Lähnemann's current research focuses on devotional writing from northern Germany, especially the manuscripts of the convent of Medingen. In 2010, the German Research Foundation nominated her for AcademiaNet, the database of profiles of leading women scientists; she also chaired Women in German Studies 2009-2015.