Born and educated in England, as a teenager, Madge emigrated to South Africa with her parents where she studied archaeology, anthropology and economics at Cape Town University.
Madge married while a student and gave birth to a son, Ivan, who, as a baby, accompanied her on archeological hikes to remote sites, tied on her back like a Xhosa child.
Her husband’s disappearance in Zaire led her to establish first a poultry farm and then a vegetable shop in order to keep her child with her during his infancy. “I wrote my first book between serving the spuds and selling my new-laid eggs. Needless to say, it wasn’t published.”
When her son was old enough for school, she returned to London and worked as a sub–editor on Woman’s Realm. Most evenings were spent working for the A.N.C. in exile, at Nkrumah House, writing leaflets, operating a dilapidated printing press and collecting funds for the movement.
Later she returned to South Africa to establish a trade publishing company, creating four new magazines.
Her children share her love of the bushveld. Her son, an auditor, lives in Johannesburg with his family. Her daughter, Jenni, a London shipping and commodities lawyer, shares her love of writing and travelling. Together they have explored most of the game reserves, deserts and swamps in Southern Africa and travelled to exotic places for scuba diving holidays.
Madge admits she is obsessed with writing. It didn’t always make her happy – success and failure have probably caused more tears and heartache than she cares to recall – but it is an occupation to which she is committed.
Madge found that her lifestyle became more difficult as she battled to meet deadlines. “People have strange ideas about novelists, imagining that they are gregarious and fun loving, or that they lead the type of lives they describe,” she says. “The truth is, they spend most of their lives sitting alone in front of a computer, but the myth persists. Fortunately there are those wonderful holidays between books when you can take off on research trips for the next plot.”
“People have strange ideas about novelists, imagining that they are gregarious and fun loving, or that they lead the type of lives they describe.”
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