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Meet Iris Origo

Posted 23rd Nov 2018

‘Origo’s diaries, trenchantly and pithily written, are a glory’ – Spectator

‘A true cosmopolite of vast energy and stunning intelligence’ – New York Times

A Chill in the Air, the gripping unpublished diary from the bestselling diarist and biographer, Iris Origo is now out in a beautiful new paperback edition.

With piercing insight, Origo documents the grim absurdities that her adopted Italy underwent as war became more and more unavoidable, and it’s a worthy companion to the bestselling War in Val d’OrciaRead on to discover more about this fascinating writer:

  • Born in 1902, Origo was known as Iris Margaret Cutting. The Margaret was added after her family thought the name Iris Cutting was ‘too botanical.’
  • Origo’s father, an American Aristocrat, was adamant that his daughter grew up in Italy and not Britain, ‘free from all tis national feeling which makes people so unhappy. Bring her up somewhere where she does not belong.’
  • She married Antonio Origo, the illegitimate child of an Italian Marquis, and became Marchessa Origo. Her mother severely disapproved and spent her daughter’s wedding day in bed.

  • Origo set up a school for fifty or so children in La Foce, the Tuscan estate she and Antonio bought and restored. She also taught many illiterate families how to read and write.
  • During the Second World War, Origo sheltered many children and allied prisoners of war in defiance of Italy’s fascist regime and Nazi occupation.
  • She was the first person to have access to over a hundred love letters between Byron and Countess Teresa Guiccioli. Her bestselling biography The Last Attachment charts the turbulent affair.

  • In 1976, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire ‘for services to British cultural interests in Italy and to Anglo-Italian relations.’
  • The gardens of La Foce are still to this day considered the finest in Italy. Each year, an annual music festival established by their grandson celebrates Iris and Antonio’s life.

Purchase A Chill in the Air >

Discover more from Iris Origo >