Janet Ross, née Duff-Gordon, was born in London, England, to Sir Alexander Duff-Gordon, 3rd baronet, a high British government official and his wife Lucie, Lady Duff-Gordon, a well-known translator of German works and author of the classic Letters from Egypt, 1863-1865. Her maternal grandmother Sarah Austin also was a famous translator. Janet grew up in a highly cultured household frequented by leading intellectuals and writers. Her parents' friends and regular visitors included William Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Thomas Macaulay, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Caroline Norton, and Thomas Carlyle. She was educated by tutors and traveled to Europe to learn French and German. In 1860, she married Henry Ross, a merchant banker 22 years her senior, with whom she had a son. They went to live in Alexandria, Egypt, where Henry was a partner in a British bank. In Egypt, she cultivated educated and influential people, such as Ferdinand de Lesseps, who took her on an early tour of the Suez Canal under construction. She traveled extensively in Egypt and became a correspondent for The Times. In 1867, her husband lost a great deal of the value of his investments and ended his banking career. They moved to Florence, Italy, settling among an Anglo-Italian community, eventually renting the nearby Villa Castagnolo. The owner of the villa taught Janet about farming, and she began implementing more modern agricultural methods. The Rosses also traveled extensively around Italy, and a trip to Apulia trip later inspired Janet's book Land of Manfred (1899). Janet managed the farms at their next home, Villa di Poggio Gherardo, became an art dealer, and hosted a salon for writers and artists such as George Meredith, John Addington Symonds, and Marie Corelli. Mark Twain was a neighbor in a house she found for him, and she helped Bernard Berenson find and purchase I Tatti. Other neighbors included Iris Origo and Violet May, who wrote under the pseudonym Vernon Lee. Janet wrote for literary journals, and published some of her collected writings as Italian Sketches in 1887. She followed this book with the memoirs Early Days Recalled (1891), Three Generations of English Women (1888) and later The Fourth Generation (1912). She wrote the classic cookbook Leaves from Our Tuscan Kitchen, or, How to Cook Vegetables (1900), which is still in print. Other books included Florentine Villas (1901), Lives of the Early Medici as Told in Their Correspondence (1910), and The Story of Pisa (1909).