Irina Skariatina was born to a wealthy aristocratic Russian family. Her parents were Princess Mary Lobanov and General Wladimir Skariatine. She was presented at court and served as a maid of honor to the Empress Alexandra and Dowager Empress Marie. At age 17, she married Count Alexander Keller; the marriage later ended in divorce. During World War I, she was a nurse and medical student. She was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution but was rescued by American friends who helped leave the country. She emigrated to the USA in 1923 and became an American citizen. Her first memoir, A World Can End, was published in 1931. The following year, she was allowed to visit her former home in the USSR and tour hospitals, schools, factories, and museums and attend political meetings. Her book about the trip was entitled First to Go Back. It was followed by other books, including Little Era in Old Russia (1934) and the novel Tamara (1942). During World War II, she was a war correspondent in Europe for Collier's Magazine. She married as her second husband author and naval officer Victor Franklin Blakeslee.