Madeleine Polland, née Cahill, was born in the south of Ireland and experienced the turmoil of the Irish Rebellion in the early 1920s, before her father moved the family to England. As a young adult, she got a job at the local library, and helped rebuild its book collection. During World War II, she enlisted in the British military and served at a radar installation. In 1946, she married Arthur Polland, with whom she had two children who provided inspiration for various of her books. Her first published work was Children of the Red King (1960), followed by Beorn the Proud (1961) and many more popular historical novels for children and young adults. She traveled to nearly all the places she wrote about to gain insights and understanding, giving her books depth and authenticity.