As a bookseller, Verity Fitzhardinge established the fondly remembered Verity Hewitt bookshop in Canberra. As an inspiring teacher, she had Gough Whitlam and Evdokia Petrov among her pupils. As a linguist, she became fluent in Russian, and as an activist ever supported progressive causes. As an historian, she ventured into far corners of Afghanistan and did pioneering work on Russian contacts with Australia. As ‘a farmer by feeling’, she ran the family orchard and then cattle stud. And as a prolific and talented writer, she left a trove of diaries and letters which Robert Lehane has mined to produce this fascinating account of a life well lived.