Margaret Mahy

Margaret Mahy


Margaret Mahy was born in Whakatane, a country town in New Zealand, in 1936 and lived there until she was 17. Her father was a bridge builder and she had five brothers and sisters. She attended university in the cities of Auckland and Christchurch and qualified as a children’s librarian.

She spent her childhood acting out stories and reading books. “I do believe now that the games I acted out, talking aloud as I did, were the real stories I was inventing.”

In 1969 she had her first book published. This book was called A LION IN THE MEADOW and when she first held the book and opened it up, it suddenly seemed to her that she had been trying to write a book for as long as she could remember. Now Margaret often works on more than one book at a time, writing stories suitable for little children along with novels for children of about twelve or thirteen. She also writes scripts for New Zealand television programmes usually for children.

Margaret Mahy has twice won the Carnegie Medal, the most prestigious British award for children’s literature for THE HAUNTING in 1982 and for THE CHANGEOVER in 1984. In 1986 she won the IBBY Honour Book Award and in 1987 The Observer Teenage Fiction Award. In her native New Zealand she has been awarded many prizes, including the Esther Glen Award four times and the Aim Book Award (Junior) in 1993. In February 1993 she was awarded New Zealand’s highest honour, The Order of New Zealand, which is only ever held by twenty people alive at any one time. She also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Letters, awarded to her also in 1993 by the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

“I have an almost fanatical belief in the importance of reading aloud, so many of my stories are written with this intention.” Margaret is a frequent visitor to schools and libraries, when she’s liable to don an animal costume or a multi-coloured wig, describing herself as “a bit of an exhibitionist, with nothing to exhibit.”

Margaret Mahy has two grown-up daughters, a baby grand-daughter, several cats, a large garden and a black woolly poodle. The poodle is unclipped and the garden often unweeded, she says. She lives near Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand.

“Margaret Mahy is outstanding in the richness of her ideas and in her great story-telling ability. She has a fresh and vivid imagination, which speaks directly to the imagination of the child, and an ability to use language to increase the force of her imagery to great effect.” Twentieth Century Children’s Writers

copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.


Margaret Mahy
Illustrator: Patricia MacCarthy
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