Winifred Lady Fortescue, née Beech, was born in Suffolk, England, the daughter of a clergyman and his wife. At age 17, she began went to drama school and began working as an actress. She appeared in numerous plays in London and on tour. In 1914, she married John (later Sir John) Fortescue, 28 years her senior, the Librarian and Archivist at Windsor Castle and British Army historian. After her marriage, she gave up her acting career and started a successful interior decorating and dress designing business. Later she began writing for newspapers and magazines such as The Times of London and Punch, and edited a woman's page for the Morning Post. In the early 1930's, she and her husband left England and settled in an old stone house near Nice in Provence, France that they renovated. There she wrote the memoir Perfume from Provence (1935), which became a bestseller. She also wrote a number of other books, including a sequel, Sunset House (1937), and her autobiography, There's Rosemary, There's Rue (1939). She fled the German invasion of France at the start of World War II and returned to England. After the war, she went back to live in Provence.