About the Author
Maggie Ballinger was born in Crewe and brought up, along with a younger brother, in Morden, Surrey - a great location for a teenager in the sixties, with direct underground access to central London. She went to school in Mitcham, and her local social life centred on the church hall rehearsals of an aspiring pop group - one of thousands which, according to her Dad, would never make it. The group’s name was Mud.
In the early 70s, she studied history at the Universities of East Anglia and London, and started work as an administrative trainee at Westminster Hospital, thereby beginning a lifelong career as a health service manager. Via posts in King’s Lynn and Leeds, she ended up in Sheffield in 1980. After planning, and seeing through, the merger of the city’s women’s services, she retired sixteen years ago.
Her two daughters - Vicky and Stephanie - are both Sheffield born, as are her four young grandchildren, Ella (11), Freddie (9), Matilda (5) and Amelie (2).
Maggie began writing in the seventies, storing all her early manuscripts in a garden shed, where they were eaten by mice. A surviving verse about the death of a pet goldfish was turned into a stage act (performed with younger daughter Stephanie playing the eponymous Nigel) which, in 2010, reached the live audition stage of “Britain’s Got Talent” to universal derision. The act’s name - “The Dead Fish Poets' Society” - has since been adopted as the name of the publisher for Baa Baa Pink Sheep.
She is sometimes requested to write speeches (for weddings, charities etc) in verse, which is a good way of making even the most uninspiring material humorous. Arising from one such commission is a future project to determine exactly where the British north/south dividing line for pronunciation lies. The client pointed out that the words “laugh” and “half” don’t rhyme. Do they? Don’t they? It all depends on where you learnt to speak English.
Since childhood, Maggie has been a keen supporter of Crewe Alexandra Football Club - an enthusiasm shared by her architect husband Stephen. For several seasons, she wrote to Dario Gradi (then the club’s manager) with a critique in verse of almost every game, and was asked by BBC Radio Stoke to pen and read a poem about the opening of the new stand. The couple, who are learning the language and love all things Spanish (except the food), are also aficionados of Atletico de Madrid.
Other hobbies include DIY/property renovation, music (song writing and playing piano), water colour painting, designing knitwear, and gardening (spindly sweet corn that keels over is a speciality). Childcare features regularly on her weekly agenda. Having recently had dental implants and swum with dolphins (or rather stood in water dodging the attentions of one over-friendly dolphin called Brenda), her remaining bucket list ambitions are to learn to tap dance and to play the violin (not necessarily with a view to doing both at the same time).
Completed writing projects include Eliminate, research for which required a visit to Ypres. This book is currently with selected readers. An earlier story, The Wish Gift, (in which chick lit meets HG Wells), has recently undergone extensive revision. Set from the 1960s to the 1990s, it can probably be classed as a historical novel of uncertain genre. Its sequel is in draft form.
Having got part way through a history of Great Britain (in rhyme), only to discover it had already been done, she braved her fear of drowning and turned her attentions elsewhere. Now, recently published, is Britannia's Glory - A Maritime Story. This is a very long epic verse, telling the enduringly fascinating tale of Great Britain's seafaring history. It comprises 1,741 six line stanzas.