Mary Norton: Biography

Mary Norton

10 dec 1903

Mary Norton was born Kathleen Mary Pearson in London, England in 1903. She was a well-known author of books for children and is best remembered for The Borrowers, a series of books about a family of tiny, mouse-sized people who live as unwelcome guests in a human home.

Her father was a doctor, and Norton was raised in a house in Leighton Buzzard which now forms part of a school there. This house is thought to be the setting of The Borrowers. Mary married Robert Charles Norton when she was 24 years old. Together they had four children: two boys and two girls. In 1940, Norton started to work for the War Office before the family relocated to the USA. It was whilst living in New York during the height of the Second World War that Norton began writing.

Norton’s first novel, Bed Knob, was published in 1943. It was later published in one single volume with its sequel, entitled Bed Knob and Broomstick. This edition was the inspiration for the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks which was released by Disney in 1971. In 1952, Norton published her first novel in The Borrowers series. In the same year, Norton was awarded the Carnegie Medal by the Library Association, in recognition of The Borrowers as the most outstanding children’s book by a British writer. The Carnegie Medal celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2007, and The Borrowers was selected amongst the top ten best ever winners of the medal.

Mary Norton died of a stroke in 1992 whilst in Devon, England. She was 88 years old.