Katherine Clifton is loosely based on Lady Dorothy Clayton-East-Clayton. Lady Dorothy was known to her friends as 'Peter' and was keen to join her husband on his 1932 expedition with Almasy to serch for Zerzurra, although she was told to remain in Cairo, which must have frustrated her.
Lady Dorothy is reported to have not liked Almasy, perhaps due to reports of his alleged homosexuality.
Following her husband's death, Lady Dorothy assembled another expedition into the desert to continue on her husband's work. While the expedition failed to locate Zerzurra, it did complete (for the first time) the 'great journey' from the Gilf Kebir, through the Sand Sea, to Siwa Oasis, something that Almasy had been planning.
Lady Dorothy was also to die young, in an aviation incident after returning to England in 1933. While the coroner ruled her death an accident, the details surrounding the event remain mysterious.
An excellent and very detailed history of Lady Dorothy can by found on Barbara Champman's website.