Eleanor Perényi (1918–2009) was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Ellis Spencer Stone, a naval officer, and Grace Zaring Stone, a novelist. At the age of nineteen, she traveled to Europe with her mother and, while attending a diplomatic dinner with her parents in Budapest, met Zsigmond (Zsiga) Perényi, a young Hungarian baron. They married, moved to his family’s neglected estate in Ruthenia, under Czech rule at the time, and began repairing the castle and restoring to working order the 750-acre farm and vineyard. With the outbreak of World War II, Zsiga was called to serve in the Hungarian army and persuaded Eleanor, then pregnant, to return to the United States. She settled in New York, raising her son and working as an editor for Harper’s Bazaar
, then as managing editor for Mademoiselle
. Her first book, More Was Lost
, was published in 1946, followed by a novel, The Bright Sword
, in 1955. She achieved critical acclaim with Liszt: The Artist as Romantic Hero
(1974), which was nominated for a National Book Award; however, her final book, Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden
(1981), was Perényi’s greatest success and is still considered a classic of garden writing.