Lady Violet Georgiana Pakenham was the youngest child of Brigadier-General Thomas Pakenham, 5th Earl of Longford, who was killed in World War I when she was a small child, and his wife Lady Mary Child-Villiers. Five of the 6 siblings became in the family became published authors. In London and at Pakenham Hall, their Irish home, they held parties for friends such as John Betjeman, Lord David Cecil, and Evelyn Waugh. Lady Violet was the first to receive a formal education. She attended St. Margaret's School and the London School of Economics. She worked as a journalist at the London Evening Standard with her sister Lady Mary Clive, and throughout her life continued to write reviews for national newspapers. In 1934, she married Anthony Powell, the novelist, with whom she had two children. In 1952, they moved to The Chantry, a Regency country house near Frome in Somerset, where Lady Violet could ride, hunt, play polo, and entertain fellow writers and friends. She became a distinguished biographer and memoirist. The first volume of her autobiography was Five Out of Six (1960), about her unusual childhood. She went on to publish biographies of Maude ffoulkes, the Victorian ghostwriter (A Substantial Ghost, 1967), the novelists Flora Annie Steel (1981), Margaret Kennedy (1983), and E.M. Delafield (1988). She also wrote a 1978 biography of her maternal grandmother, Margaret Child-Villiers, Countess of Jersey. She put together a compendium on Ivy Compton-Burnett in 1973 and on Jane Austen in 1993. Lady Violet and her husband supported and encouraged each other's work. In 1987, they collaborated more formally on the pictorial Album of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time, which Lady Violet edited.