Irene Kampen, née Trepel,was born in Brooklyn and raised in Great Neck, New York. She attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she was editor of the college humor magazine. After graduation in 1943, she worked as a "copy girl" at the New York Journal American. She married Owen Kampen, an artist and illustrator, with whom she had a daughter. The couple divorced after 11 years. In 1961, Irene published a book, Life Without George, about her post-divorce life, which launched her writing career. It became the basis for The Lucy Show (1962-1968), the television series starring Lucille Ball. Irene used her own life and that of her daughter as material for 10 other books and many articles and stories, including Are You Carrying Any Gold or Living Relatives? (1970) about her trip to the USSR; Due to Lack of Interest, Tomorrow Has Been Canceled (1969); Fear Without Childbirth (1978); Nobody Calls at This Hour Just to Say Hello (1975); Here Comes the Bride, There Goes the Mother (1967); and Last Year at Sugarbush (1965). She wrote a column for local newspapers and also gave lectures on cruise ships.