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Ivy Litvinov (1889–1977)

Author of She Knew She Was Right

Includes the names: Ivy Low, Ivy Litvinov, Ivy Litvinoff

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Ivy Litvinov (or Litvinoff), née Low, was born in London to an Anglo-Jewish family. Her father Walter Low, who died when she was a small child, was a member of the Fabian Society and a friend of H.G. Wells. Her mother Louise Baker was the daughter of a British Indian Army officer. She went to work for an insurance company and began her writing career. Her first novel, Growing Pains (1913), published when she was 23, contained autobiographical elements. Her next novel, The Questing Beast (1914), was one of the first to depict women in office life. In 1916, she married Maxim Litvinov, then a Russian revolutionary exile, with whom she had two children. After the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution, Maxim returned home, and Ivy and the children followed him two years later. Maxim became a leading diplomat and served as Soviet foreign minister (1930-1939 and as ambassador to the USA (1941-1943). The couple survived political turmoil and Stalin's purges. Ivy accompanied her husband on some of his diplomatic postings, but lived mainly in the USSR for most of her adult life. She wrote His Master’s Voice, a detective story (1930), later published in the USA as A Moscow Mystery, and worked on short stories she contributed to The New Yorker, the Manchester Guardian, Blackwood’s Magazine, and Vogue beginning in the 1960s. A collection of her short stories was published in book form as She Knew She Was Right (1971). She made numerous translations of Russian literature into English, and also wrote or edited reference books for Russian-speakers learning English. She was an early fan of D.H. Lawrence and visited him and his future wife Frieda von Richthofen in Italy in 1914; she wrote an article, "A visit to D.H. Lawrence" for Harper's Bazaar in 1946. She returned to England in 1972.
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