Margaret Bird, the editor

Margaret Bird in 2016

Margaret Bird in 2016: editor of the Diary and author of the commentary volumes Mary Hardy and her World

Editor of The Diary of Mary Hardy and author of the volumes of commentary Mary Hardy and her World, Margaret Bird was an Honorary Research Fellow in the History department of Royal Holloway, University of London 2006–21.

She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2016 in recognition of her contribution to historical scholarship. Her Mary Hardy volumes gained Highly Commended in the Rural History Prize 2021.

Born in central London in 1946, she read Modern History at St Anne’s College, Oxford and gained her master’s degree in Modern History at Royal Holloway. For both degrees she specialised in aspects of English history in the eighteenth century.

She has lived in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey since 1970 and was a partner with her husband Tony in the economic consultancy they founded and ran for 22 years.

She has a deep love of the landscape and waterways of the Norfolk Broads in eastern England. All her life she has spent as much time as possible on the family boat, at first with her parents, later with her husband and three sons and, in recent years, the new boating generation.

Margaret Bird in dinghy, July 2018

Margaret Bird on the Broads in 2018

Georgian Holt at Work and Play

Drawing on her work on Mary Hardy’s diary Margaret Bird wrote a booklet for the Holt Society in north Norfolk, published in April 2023. Georgian Holt at Work and Play describes the pressures on the commercial class in the market town and identifies five key features which made Holt special.

An interview on the editorial process

On 11 June 2013 Margaret Bird gave an interview to an American blogger, Kelly McDonald of Vermont. Kelly had recently purchased the four-volume set of The Diary of Mary Hardy, and had posted a video of her reaction to the books on YouTube.

In the interview Margaret talks about her 25-year research and editing task (as it was at that time). Kelly also invited her to reflect on the process of tackling such matters as the unusual page layout and keeping up with changes in computer technology.

Transferring all the text and illustrations during upgrades proved extremely time-consuming and was not always possible electronically. One prolonged transfer had to be done by scanning dot-matrix printouts of hundreds of files as the software packages were incompatible.

The full interview is on one of Kelly McDonald’s websites, Two Teens in the Time of Austen.