Helena Hayward, née Martyn, was the daughter of Sir Henry Martyn, surgeon-apothecary to the British royal household. She attended St. George's School, the Sorbonne, and the University of Heidelberg. She learned to speak fluent French, German and Italian and had a working knowledge of Danish, Russian, and Spanish. In 1939, she married J.F. (John Forrest) Hayward, who became an expert on arms and metalwork, with whom she had two children. Helena Hayward accompanied her husband on his post-World War II posting to Europe as a member of the Monuments and Fine Arts Office, and studied Baroque architecture and decoration. After their return to England, she taught and became an author. Her book Thomas Johnson and English Rococo (1963) established her reputation as a furniture historian. She edited World Furniture (1969) and the Catalogue of the Drawings of John Linnell in the Victoria and Albert Museum (1969). These were followed by William and John Linnell: Eighteenth-century London Furniture Makers (1980), written with Pat Kirkham. She became co-director of the famed Attingham Summer School in 1971 and was its director from 1976 to 1985. She was chairman of the Anglo-American Committee of the Georgian Group and taught courses at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Study Centre for the History of Fine and Decorative Arts. She was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE).