Barbara Strachey was born in Oxford, England, a daughter of Oliver Strachey, a cryptographer in both World War I and World War II, and the feminist politician writer, and amateur painter Rachel "Ray" Strachey. The family belonged to the famous Bloomsbury Group of artists and intellectuals. Barbara attended schools in London, Oxford, Switzerland, and Vienna. She read history at Oxford University and went to work for the BBC for a period. There she was involved in the transformation of the General Overseas Service into the BBC World Service in 1965. In 1934, Barbara married Olaf Hultin, with whom she had a son; they divorced in 1937. She remarried in 1937 to Wolf Halpern, an American, who was killed in 1943 serving in World War II. After the death of her younger brother, computer scientist Christopher Strachey in 1975, she moved to a small house in the Jericho neighborhood of Oxford. She took up writing and produced several biographical works. A devoted fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, she wanted fuller and more detailed maps to go with his books. So she decided to create them herself, although not a professional cartographer or artist. Her efforts provided readers of The Lord of the Rings with a new and more vivid idea of Middle-earth, and her atlas book Journeys of Frodo (1981) remains an essential companion to Tolkien’s masterpiece.