Iris Origo was one of the twentieth century's most attractive and intriguing women, a brilliantly perceptive historian and biographer whose works remains widely admired. Iris grew up in Italy with her Irish mother after the death of her wealthy American father. They settled in the Villa Medici in Florence, where they became part of the colourful and privileged Anglo-Florentine set that included Edith Wharton, Harold Acton and the Berensons.When Iris married Antonio Origo, they bought and revived La Foce, a derelict stretch of the beautiful Val d'Orcia valley in Tuscany and created an estate that thrives to this day. During World War II they sided firmly with the Allies, taking considerable risks in protecting children and sheltering partisans and Iris's diary from that time, War in Val d'Orcia, is now considered a modern classic. Caroline Moorehead has drawn on many previously unpublished letters, diaries, and papers to write the definitive biography of a very remarkable woman.
As well as Iris Origo, Caroline Moorehead is the biographer of Bertrand Russell, Freya Stark (reissued by Allison & Busby) and Martha Gellhorn. Well known for her work in human rights, she has published a history of the Red Cross and a book about refugees, Human Cargo. Her biography of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Dancing to the Precipice, was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award in 2009. She lives in London.