Olga Ilyin, née Boratynski, was born to a wealthy, aristocratic Russian family. After her mother died, she was cared for by her father’s sister, a lady-in-waiting at the Imperial Court in St. Petersburg. In 1917, she married Kiril Ilyin, a Russian cavalry officer. After the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war, she fled across Siberia with her infant son Boris and other White Russian officers' families, first by train then by sled. Four years later, she was reunited with her husband in Harbin, Manchuria. In 1923, they made their way to the USA, settling in California. There she started a couture clothing business. She had been a poet before the Revolution, but lost the gift during her hardships. She published an autobiographical novel, Dawn of the Eighth Day (1951); a novel, St. Petersburg Affair; and a memoir, White Road: A Russian Odyssey, 1919-1923. At her death in 1991, she left behind an unpublished memoir called Visits to the Imperial Court, later published by her son.