Mary Withall was born in London and was a science teacher for many years. On her retirement in 1988 she moved to Argyll and began a second career as a historical novelist. Her novels include Beacon on the Shore (1995), The Gorse in Bloom (1996), The Poppy Orchard (1999) and The Flight of the Cormorants (2000). In addition to her writing, she is also archivist of the Scottish Slate Islands Heritage Trust and author of The Island that Roofed the World. She lives in Easdale, near Oban.