In the summer of 1974, the author Olivia Manning reread the transcript of a BBC radio talk she had given eleven years earlier about her arrival in Cairo in 1941 with her husband, Reggie Smith. Although she was not well, it inspired her to follow her Balkan trilogy (see SF no. 63), detailing the wartime experiences of Harriet and Guy Pringle in Bucharest and Athens, with a second sequence set in Egypt and the Middle East. The task took five years and by the time it was finished Manning had only months to live. She died in July 1980, aged 72.