Margaret Elizabeth Heald Jenkins was born October 31, 1905, in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England. She attended Newman College, Cambridge, from 1924 to 1927, where she studied history and literature. From 1929 to 1939, Jenkins taught English at King Alfred School. During World War II, she served as a British civil servant. After 1945, she became a full time writer.
Jenkins is best known for her two biographical works on Queen Elizabeth I of England and her biography of the writer Jane Austen. Elizabeth the Great, her biography of Elizabeth I, was first published in 1958. As a follow-up, Jenkins wrote a book about the relationship between Elizabeth I and the earl of Leicester in Elizabeth and Leicester (1961). Her book The Princes in the Tower offers a history of the controversy surrounding King Richard III of England and the imprisonment of his two young nephews in the Tower of London. Jenkins has written biographies of English novelists in Henry Fielding (1947) and Jane Austen: A Biography (1949). Her book Ten Fascinating Women (1968) provides information on ten notable English women in history, including Elizabeth I. Jenkins received the Femina Vic Heureuse prize in 1934 for her novel Harriet. Her other novels include Virginia Water (1930), Doubtful Joy (1935), The Winters (1947), Honey (1968), and Dr. Gully (1972). Jenkins lives in England.