Priscilla Napier, née Hayter, was born in Oxford, England, and spent much of her childhood in Cairo, Egypt during the last years of the British Protectorate. Her parents were Sir William Hayter, a legal and financial adviser to the Egyptian government, and his wife Alethea Slessor. Her brother, Sir William Goodenough Hayter grew up to become British Ambassador to the USSR, and her younger sister Alethea Hayter became a cultural ambassador and literary biographer. She was educated at Downe House School, in Berkshire, and then won a scholarship to the University of Oxford, where she graduated with a BA in modern history. In 1931, at age 22, she married Trevylyan Napier, a Royal Navy officer and a descendant of the famous Napier family of Merchiston, with whom she had three children. Her husband was killed on active service in 1940 during World War II, and she developed a writing career based on studies of his family. Many of her book won critical acclaim. They included: The Sword Dance: Lady Sarah Lennox and the Napiers (1971), A Difficult Country: the Napiers in Scotland (1972), Revolution and the Napier Brothers, 1820-1840 (1973), and I Have Sind: Charles Napier in India, 1841-1844 (1990). She also published poetry, translations, and an autobiography recreating her childhood in the late Edwardian era, A Late Beginner (1966).