Eleanor Fairburn was one of the many pen names of Eva Lyons. She was born in Westport in the west of Ireland, the only child of Mary and Michael Lyons. Her mother died when she was three years old. At age eight, she went to a convent boarding school in Balla, from which she graduated at 17. She trained in Dublin for a career in fashion design, then worked as a receptionist in a hospital, supplementing her income by writing articles and stories for newspapers. She also produced knitwear designs for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She married Brian Fairburn, an analytical chemist, with whom she had a daughter and settled in Yorkshire, England. She began her career as novelist with the publication of The Green Popinjays in 1962. Her second and most successful book was The White Seahorse (1964), about the pirate queen Grace O’Malley. In all, she wrote about 25 works of historical fiction and crime thrillers, using various pseudonyms, including Emma Gayle, Catherine Carfax, Elena Lyons, and Anne Neville. She taught a writing course at the University of Leeds for 10 years and was a founding member of the Middlesbrough Writers’ Group. After her husband's death, she moved to Norwich to be closer to her daughter.