Violet Florence Martin was born at Ross House in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland, the youngest of 16 children of an old landowning family. They were Protestants, her great-grandfather having converted from the Roman Catholic faith in order to retain his family estates. Her older brother Robert Jasper Martin became a noted songwriter and a member of the Tory Party in London. She shared a great-grandmother with the writer Maria Edgeworth, and was a cousin of Mary Letitia Martin. Her father went bankrupt trying to save both his estates and his tenants during the Irish potato famine. After his death in 1872, the family moved to Dublin and only returned to Ross House in 1888. Violet and another cousin, Edith Somerville, met in 1886 and became lifelong companions and literary partners. They shared a home in Drishane, County Cork. In 1889, Violet adopted the pseudonym Martin Ross, derived from her surname and the name of her childhood home; her works co-written with Edith were published under the pen name Somerville and Ross. These included The Real Charlotte (1889), Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899), and In the Vine Country (1893). Violet was a dedicated suffragist, becoming vice-president of the Munster Women's Franchise League. She moved in Irish literary revival circles with W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. She was seriously injured in a riding accident in 1898 from which she never fully recovered. Edith Somerville continued to write under their joint literary names. The two women produced 14 books together, including novels, short stories, and travelogues.