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Images and Shadows

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“A small classic of autobiography.” Iris Origo was born in 1902 and was instantly catapulted into a life of “unfair advantages of birth, education, money, environment and opportunity.” But she used this birth-right wisely, and her legacy includes a string of books beloved and admired equally by historians, biographers and readers; as well as the verdant green Tuscan valleys seen so often in films and commercials: before Origo they were dust-ridden wastelands. After a stormy childhood between her family’s ancestral estate in Long Island and her grandfather’s castle in Ireland, she married a Florentine nobleman and bought La Foce, an entire valley near Montepulciano. For the next fifty years she worked tirelessly improving the land, bringing the peasants out of the feudal civilization they had lived in up until that time, and saving children from the brutal incursions of the Nazis.

War in Val D’Orcia 1943-44: A Diary

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A classic of the Second World War, this is a simple chronicle of daily life at La Foce, a manor in the Tuscan no-man’s land bracketed by foreign invasion and civil war. Deeply dramatic and tender, it tells the story of an Anglo-American woman who married an Italian nobleman, bought a ramshackle old Renaissance estate near Montepulciano, and used it to shelter sixty orphans along with countless escaped Allied prisoners during the German occupation of her lands.