Dorothy Wellesley was born Dorothy Violet Ashton in Maidenhead, the daughter of Colonel Robert Ashton, a member of a well-connected, aristocratic family. She married the 7th Duke of Wellington in 1914, becoming styled as Lady Gerald Wellesley, but left him and their two children in 1922 for Vita Sackville-West, although she and her husband never divorced. When this relationship ended she lived with Hilda Matheson, a BBC producer, for eight years before Hilda died during an operation, a loss which caused her great grief.
In 1935 she was introduced to W B Yeats who was a big admirer of her poetry. He edited her poems and together they edited Broadsides: New Irish and English Songs. He also wrote a poem in her honour entitled To Dorothy Wellesley. During a literary career which ran from 1920 until 1955 she produced ten volumes of poetry, wrote two prose works, a biography of Sir George Goldie. Founder of Nigeria, an autobiography Far I Have Travelled and worked as editor of the Hogarth Press. Her poetry is written in blank verse and is full of unusual phraseology and imagery, making it sometimes difficult to interpret.