Mary Spenser Norton was born in London, England on December 10th in 1903. She was raised in a house that would become the setting for many of her books in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. One of five children, she shared the house with her four brothers.
After attending convent school, she became one of the troupe of actors playing at the Old Vic in London. She did this for two years before marrying Robert Charles Norton, a shipping magnate, and moving to live with her husband in Portugal. When World War II broke out, her husband enlisted in the Navy and she moved back to England with their four children, where she worked for the BBC and the War Office.
Her earlier books, The Magic Bed-Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks were gathered into one book, Bed-Knob and Broomstick, which was made into a movie by Walt Disney. Then followed her most famous books, the Borrowers series, published from 1952 to 1961: The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, and the Borrowers Aloft. The Borrowers were a small race of people who borrowed things from humans. These stories about Pod, Homily, and Arrietty Clock were great favorites with children and adults. C.S. Lewis wrote to Mary Norton, thanking her for these stories: “They have given me great and (I anticipate) lasting pleasure.” The Borrowers won the Carnegie Medal, the most prestigious prize given to children’s fiction in Britain.
A late-in-life book (1975) was Are All the Giants Dead? illustrated by Brian Froud. Ms. Norton died on August 29, 1992, in Hartland, Devonshire, England.