Olivia Manning, OBE, was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, spent much of her youth in Ireland and, as she put it, had ‘the usual Anglo-Irish sense of belonging nowhere’. The daughter of a naval officer, she produced her first novel; The Wind Changes, in 1937. She married just before the War and went abroad with her husband, R.D. Smith, a British Council Lecturer in Bucharest. Her experience there formed the basis of the work which makes up The Balkan Trilogy. As the Germans approached Athens, she and her husband evacuated to Egypt and ended up in charge of the Palestine Broadcasting Station. They returned to London in 1946 and lived there until her death in 1980.