Carola Mary Anima Oman was born in 1897 in Oxford, the second of three children of Sir Charles and Mary Oman. In 1906 she was sent to Miss Batty’s School in Park Crescent, Oxford, where she eventually became head girl.
In World War One Carola Oman was a probationary VAD nurse at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. After various nursing appointments during the war, she was discharged in 1919. Her first book, The Menin Road and Other Poems, was published later that year.
On 26 April 1922, Carola Oman married Gerald Lenanton, and subsequently devoted most of her writing in the 1920s and 1930s to a series of historical novels, influenced in part by her close friend Georgette Heyer.
In the course of a writing career of more than half a century Oman published over thirty books of fiction, history, and biography, among them several historical works for children, and Ayot Rectory (1965), set in the village where she and her husband had settled in a Jacobean manor, Bride Hall. In later years she specialized in historical biography. 1946 saw her prize-winning biography of Nelson, the book on which her reputation as a biographer rests. She was appointed CBE in 1957.
After two strokes, Carola Oman died at Bride Hall, Ayot St Laurence, on 11 June 1978.