Elena Văcărescu (or Hélène Vacaresco) was born into an ancient aristocratic Romanian family and raised on the familiy estate near Târgoviște. With her English governess, she studied English literature. She also studied French literature in Paris, where she knew Victor Hugo, and took courses in philosophy and history. She published her first book in 1886. Elena met Elisabeth of Wied, Queen of Romania (a writer under the pseudonym Carmen Sylva), who brought her to court and made her a lady-in-waiting. The queen was said to have encouraged a match between Elena and King Carol I's nephew and heir, Crown Prince Ferdinand. In 1891, Prince Ferdinand proposed to Elena, but the king and public opinion were against the marriage. Elena was exiled to France, where she published her works and was a member of diplomatic, literary, and cultural circles. In 1925, she was allowed to return to Romania. She was a Romanian delegate to the League of Nations, the only woman in the organization's history to serve with the rank of ambassador. Later, she was appointed a Romanian delegate t0 the Paris Peace Conference of 1946. She also translated the works of other Romanian writers into French.