Margaret Joy Midgley attended Oxford University and became a lecturer at the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford. In 1952, she married Peter Gelling, an archeologist and professor at the University of Birmingham. Margaret Gelling became a specialist in the study of place names (toponymy). Her published works included Signposts to the Past (1978) and The Landscape of Place-Names (2000), which she co-published with Ann Cole. Prof. Gelling served as president of the English Place-Name Society and was a member of the Society of Antiquaries of London. She was elected to the British Academy and appointed OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965.