Marion Holbourn, the author of The Conquest of Foula, was born Marion Archer-Shepherd, a vicar's daughter from Avenbury, Herefordshire.
Through her brother Laurence, she met Ian B. S. Holbourn - by then the owner of Foula - and despite parental disapproval, when after "three years, three months, and three days" of courtship he proposed to her on the top of Merton Tower at Oxford University, she accepted.
After their marriage, Marion continued to study at the Royal College of Music, but in 1907 the Holbourns moved from London to Edinburgh, where they lived at 28 Nile Grove, just before the birth of their eldest son, Hylas. In 1908, they moved to Mayfield Terrace where their other sons, Alasdair and Philistos, were born.
When her husband Ian died in 1935, he left much unpublished writing. Marion compiled The Isle of Foula, published in 1938. Marion Holbourn lived to a grand old age, passing away sometime in the 1970s.