Maurice Baring was born in Mayfair in 1874 and educated at Eton and Cambridge. A talent for languages led him into diplomatic service in Paris, Copenhagen and Rome. He resigned in 1904 but continued to travel, as a newspaper correspondent, to Russia, Manchuria, Turkey and the Balkans. He served in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, and gained an illustrious reputation, being made Honorary Wing Commander of the Royal Air Force in 1925. From 1902 to 1936 Baring published plays, poetry and novels characterised by an easy conversational style, mischievous humour, a firm sense of moral values and intense human sympathy. He died, unmarried, in Inverness-shire, in 1945. His portrait, with G K Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, by James Gunn, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.