Mary Hocking was born in Acton, west London, England, and educated at Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls. During World War II, she served in the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRENS). After the war, she became a local government officer in the Middlesex Education Department and worked there for many years until the success of her first novel, The Winter City (1961), enabled her to become a full-time writer. Most of her novels are set in contemporary England, although He Who Plays the King (1980) was a historical novel set in the last years of the Wars of the Roses. The popular Fairley family trilogy -- Good Daughters (1984), Indifferent Heroes (1985) and Welcome, Stranger (1988) -- spanned several decades of the 20th century.