Jean Lombard (née McMurtry) comes originally from Dublin where she met her future husband John, a journalist, in Guinness’s Brewery.
After working in Moscow as a nanny (read more about Jean's initial Russian connection here), she migrated to Australia and married John, a cousin of Kathleen ffrench, the subject of An Irish Woman in Czarist Russia.
In 1988 they opened the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s first bureau in the former USSR. While John reported the collapse of Soviet Communism, Jean travelled widely, researching Kathleen’s life and letters.
In 1989 they bought a small ruined farmhouse in a village near Cluny. Jean was inspired by life in the village to write Claudette: A Woman of the Middle Ages and its sequel, Claudette's Daughter.