Born in Singapore of a Dutch South African father and an English mother, Mary Nichols came to England when she was three and considers herself totally English. Her father, like many people who have had to learn English as a second language, was far more precise in its use than many English people. He would have no sloppiness, either spoken or written, and Mary puts her love of the language down to him. He was also a great reader, and there were always books in the house so that Mary learned to read at a very early age. A love of creative writing followed almost immediately, and by the time she was nine or ten, her one ambition was to be a famous writer! Her first full-length novel was written when she was fifteen, when her parents thought she was shut in her room swotting for school certificate! It was handwritten in several school exercise books and pretty abysmal, being a compound of Angela Brazil (who wrote very stereotyped schoolgirl stories) and the love stories she read in her mother's monthly magazine. Not having any idea how to go about finding a publisher, she wrapped it up and sent it to the editor of aforementioned monthly magazine! The editor sent a long and very encouraging letter, which put Mary's ambition into overdrive. One thing the editor did say, which Mary took to heart, was that she should not be overambitious, but start in a small way with stories and articles and to stick to things she knew something about.
Finishing her education and finding a job took over as priorities in the next year or two, followed by an early marriage and a family. Although she managed to find time to write, she did nothing about finding a publisher until her children were all at school. Publication of articles and stories in all sorts of periodicals and magazines followed, but the ambition to be a novelist never wavered. Throughout the time she was writing and selling short pieces, she was working on her novels, which were invariably rejected with encouraging letters that explained where she had gone wrong.
Mary's first novel, a contemporary, was published by Robert Hale in 1981. That was followed by nine more in the next five years. But Mary's real love was the historical novel, encouraged by her grandmother's stories of what life was like in the country in Victorian times. Mary sent her first historical romance to Mills and Boon in 1985, and was surprised and delighted when a telephone call three weeks later told her it had been accepted. Since then she has been a regular writer for the historical series.
Now "retired" and working harder than ever, Mary spends part of every day at her computer producing her novels and divides the rest of the time between reading and research, gardening, playing golf...