The Duchess of Atholl was born Katharine Marjory Ramsay in Edinburgh, Scotland, the daughter of Sir James Henry Ramsay, 10th Baronet of Banff, and his wife Charlotte Fanning. She was educated at Wimbledon High School and the Royal College of Music. In 1899, she married John Stewart-Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine, and a Member of the British Parliament, who became 8th Duke of Atholl in 1917. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1918 for her hospital work during World War I. She was elected the first woman Member of Parliament from Scotland in 1923, and served as Under-Secretary at the Board of Education from 1924 to 1929. She published several books, including The Conscription of a People (1931), Women and Politics (1932) and Spotlight on Spain (1938), the latter the result of her 1937 trip to Spain to observe the effects of the Spanish Civil War and German bombing of the civilian population. She was nicknamed the Red Duchess by her opponents. She lost her position as party whip due to her open criticism of the Conservative government's toleration of Franco. Finally, she resigned her seat in 1938 in opposition to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy toward Nazi Germany. She worked for the Red Cross during World War II, and in 1945 campaigned against Soviet control of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary as chairman of the British League for European Freedom. In 1958, she published a joint autobiography with her husband entitled Working Partnership.