Margaret Mahy was born in 1936 in Whakatane, New Zealand. After such an auspiscuous start, she spent her childhood happily there, growing up amidst a large family (she was the eldest of five children), with many relatives living in Whakatane as well. Her parents were a big influence on her later style - Mahy's mother had been a teacher and her father was hugely adventurous, and would also make up all sorts of tales for his children.
Mahy attended Auckland and Canterbury Universities, gaining a BA in 1955. She gained a Diploma of Librarianship in 1958 from the New Zealand Library School in Wellington, and had her first librarian's job at Petone Public Library. After moving around a few libraries, she moved to Governor's Bay near Lyttelton, (were she lives today) in 1965. In 1967 Mahy began working for the School Library Service in Christchurch, and in 1976 was appointed Children?s Librarian at the Canterbury Public Library, until she resigned in 1980 to become a full-time writer.
Her first published book was "A Lion in The Meadow" in 1969. This was the first book that really made an impression on me as a child - the scariness of it, and the fact that the ending was ambiguous - was the lion real? (For some reason, the ending of this story has been changed in newer editions, and in my opinion, it's very tame and not nearly as good.) It's a story that I now read to my own children, and I look forward to reading more Margaret Mahy stories to them as they grow older.
She is an absolutely amazing children's writer, writing for all ages from pre-schooler to teenagers (and beyond!). Her sense of the rhythm of the english language is inspired, and she doesn't let not finding the exact word she wants slow her down - she makes her own up.
Most of the picture books and 'chapter-books' for pre-schoolers and young school age children are very humourous, not only appealing to children, but to their parents and other adults as well (important, if you have to read a book to a child over and over again!) A lot of her stories are based on fantasy and adventure - she seems to have a lot of magic, and many pirates in them - but some are based on the real experiences of children, and the games they play. Mahy's adolescent novels, such as "The Changeover" have a darker side to them, as she explores some of the fears and trials of growing up.
Margaret Mahy has won many awards throughout her career as an outstanding children's author. These awards include:
Margaret Mahy has written more than 150 books so far, and shows no sign of slowing down. The following is a list of a few of them; check them out!