Margaret Bird, the author

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 with Mary Hardy's diary

Margaret Bird in 2012, with the five huge ledgers in which Mary Hardy wrote her 500,000-word manuscript. The diary remains in the hands of Mary Hardy’s descendants in Norfolk. With their permission Margaret lodged a complete set of photocopies in the Norfolk Record Office in 2013

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.

A recording of one of her talks

You can watch a talk Margaret gave to the Blakeney Area Historical Society (BAHS) on 30 November 2021. A live audience is in the hall, with further participants watching on Zoom. It lasts 1 hour 11 minutes, including the questions afterwards.

The topic is the pressures on seafarers c.1800. Just click on any part of the image in this BAHS link:

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Pre-publication article

Rowan Mantell highlights some intriguing features of Mary Hardy’s record:  250-year-old diary