Best known as the wife of painter Lucian Freud (1953-58) and poet Robert Lowell (1972-77), she was a successful author in her own right. Her debut novel, The Stepdaughter (1976), won the David Highman Prize. She also had a brief career as an actress; she appeared in several Hollywood films during the 1950s and '60s.
During her early adulthood years, she worked briefly as a secretary. She began her literary career as a journalist; in the 1960s, she wrote for such periodicals as The London Magazine and Encounter.
She was the subject of many of Lucian Freud's most famous paintings, including Girl in Bed (1952).
She met Pablo Picasso while living in Paris in the early 1950s.