Alice Mary Hadfield, née Smyth, was born in Cirencester, England (some sources say Birdholme in Derbyshire) and educated at Oxford University and Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts. Her first husband, Peter Miller, was killed very early in World War II. Alice Mary went to Bermuda with her baby daughter and worked in the British code breaking service. She became a book editor and was the coordinating editor of the first edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, published in 1941. In 1945, she married historian Charles Hadfield, later co-founder of the London publishing firm David & Charles, with whom she had three more children. Alice Mary was named librarian at Oxford University Press's Amen House. Her first independent published work was a novel, What Happens Next (1950). She wrote on a wide range of subjects that included British and local history, and collaborated on a number of books with her husband. She produced an adaptation of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur called King Arthur and the Round Table (1953); The Chartist Land Company (1970); several books on the Cotswolds, including Introducing the Cotswolds (1976); and a series of children's books known as The Williver Chronicles, beginning with Williver's Luck (1964). Her last book was a biography, Charles Williams: An Exploration of His Life and Work (1983), completed with the help of her husband.