Iris Origo (1902-88) was an English writer who grew up in Italy and married an Italian. Together they bought and renovated an estate in Tuscany, La Foce, also creating a vast and beautiful garden which can still be visited.

In addition, Iris wrote a number of books, biographies and history, as well as diaries and journals.  Among these is her memoir of living at la Foce during the Second World War, with the frontline shifting back and forth, with alternately, German soldiers, Allied airmen and Italian Fascists and partisans passing through. It is a vivid account of surviving the vagaries of war: see a few quotations already featured, on war and letters, and letters and the lapse of time.

I was struck by this beautiful photo of Iris.¬†Even if you didn’t know who she was, the composition is moving and intriguing: the play of light and shadow, her relaxed stance, the informality of a sumptuous setting, and the piled up bookshelves. It appears as if someone saw her sitting in an easy chair and just took the photo, rather than ‘positioning’ her for a PR shot.

Photo credit: portrait of Iris Origo with kind permission of Benedetta Origo

See War in the Val d’Orcia.

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