Hilda was born in Perth, Scotland. After graduating from Edinburgh University she started training to become an actuary. Three months later she decided that not even the prospect of belonging to what was then the highest paid profession in the country could induce her to carry on in a career to which she was so congenitally unsuited.
Subsequent jobs included oil industry analyst in London, artists’ model in Paris, technical translator in Baghdad, charity worker in Zanzibar and journalist in Ho Chi Minh City. In her last professional incarnation she spent five years in Khartoum as director of an educational charity.
A travel writer who engages with controversial situations and works on the principle that ‘an enemy is someone whose story hasn’t been heard’.