Born in 1862, in India, where her father - the Rev. John Richard Baldwin - was a chaplain, May Baldwin was one of five children, and was sent to school in Germany. The family returned to England from 1869-1871, when Rev. Baldwin was on furlough, and permanently in 1879, when he took a living at Dewsbury.
An accomplished linguist, and a prolific author of girls' school stories, Baldwin's work - according to Sue Sims' and Hilary Clare's The Encyclopedia of Girls' School Stories - is far less nationalistic than that of other early contributors to the genre, perhaps owing to her own international education, and frequent travel to see her many friends, worldwide.