Fausta Cialente was born into an artistic Italian family. Her brother Renato grew up to be a famous actor and novelist. The family moved often due to her father's military career. In 1921, she married Enrico Terni, a composer, and lived with him in Alexandria, Egypt, among the expatriate community; it became the setting for her earliest novels. During World War II, she worked for the British government, edited an anti-fascist journal, and made daily broadcasts on Radio Cairo. After her husband's death in 1947, she returned to Italy, where she wrote journalism for some time as well as several screenplays. She also translated works by Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Lawrence Durrell, and Henry James into Italian. She returned to fiction after 25 years and won numerous prestigious awards for her novels. Near the end of her life, she moved to England to be closer to her daughter.