Violet's assassination attempt failed: Mussolini moved his head at the last moment and the bullet only nicked his nostrils - although he wore a large plaster across his nose for several days. The sixth of seven children, born in 1876 to Lord Ashbourne and his wife (wealthy Irish Protestants, who lived in splendour in Dublin and London), Violet was a pretty, though fragile, child who was prone to violent tempers.
Violet was immediately bundled into a police car and driven to the Mantellate prison on the banks of the Tiber, where her interrogation began. Shy and intelligent, she found piano playing and needlework restrictive and dull - and her season as a debutante failed to end in an engagement.
One person that they did not see was a tiny, frail-looking woman with straggly grey hair, wearing spectacles and a shabby black dress.
Even if they had spotted her, they would never have suspected that she was the daughter of an Irish peer - nor that in her pocket she was clasping a small revolver.
' the crowd in Rome's Piazza Campidoglio roared as they jostled to get a better view of prime minister Benito Mussolini, who held much of the Italian nation in his thrall. For, in the four years since he seized power in 1922, 3,000 people had been knifed, bludgeoned or shot - and thousands more left to rot in brutal prisons.
In November 1924, Violet packed a small revolver into her luggage - and set off for Rome.Violet's attention was particularly drawn to the bloody succession of murders of Mussolini's opponents and critics.One of the most gruesome was the June 1924 slaughter of the leader of the socialist party, Giacomo Matteotti, who was subjected to a beating and sexual assault by a fascist punishment squad, before being stabbed.At 8.30am on the morning of April 7, Violet set out from the convent, her revolver in her pocket.Despite the failure of her mission, Violet seemed happy in the immediate aftermath.