Rachel "Ray" Strachey, née Costelloe, was the daughter of Benjamin Francis Conn Costelloe, an Irish lawyer, and his American-born wife Mary Smith, who abandoned her first husband and two children to live with Bernard Berenson in Italy. Ray and her sister Karin were brought up by their maternal aunt, Alys Pearsall Smith (first wife of Bertrand Russell). She attended Cambridge University and Bryn Mawr College in the USA. She became a committed suffragist and campaigned for the rights of working women for many years. In 1915, she became parliamentary secretary of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and served in that role until 1920. She joined a group called the Inter-Allied Suffragists that tried to influence the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 in favor of women's rights. In 1911, she married as his second wife Oliver Strachey, one of the brothers of Lytton Strachey, a cryptographer who worked at Bletchley Park during World War II. Her mother-in-law was Jane Grant, Lady Strachey, also a leader in the women's suffrage movement. She ran unsuccessfully as an Independent candidate for Parliament several times. Her writings included The Cause (1928) and a biography of Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1931), with whom she worked closely. In 1935, she became head of the Women's Employment Federation.