1854       Margaret Elise Harkness is born on 28 February in Great Malvern and her birth is registered in the Upton-upon- Severn Registry, Worcestershire. Her parents were an Anglican priest Robert Harkness (1826-1886) and his wife Elizabeth Bolton Toswill née Seddon (1824?-1916).

1865       The Rev. Robert Harkness moves with his family to the country parish Wimborne St. Giles in Dorset.

1875       Margaret attends Stirling House, a finishing school in Bournemouth, where she meets her fellow pupil and cousin, Beatrice Potter (later Webb).

1877       Leaves her home in Salisbury to make her living in London.

1877       Trains to become a nurse at Westminster Hospital, London.

1880       Works as an apprentice dispenser at Guy’s Hospital, near London Bridge.

1880       Applies for Reader’s Pass for the Reading Room at the British Library. Acquaints herself with several outstanding women readers, including Amy Levy, Annie Besant, Eleanor Marx, Clementine Black, and Olive Schreiner.

1880       Becomes interested in the plight of the working classes and dispossessed and decides to work as an investigative journalist.

1881       Publishes her first article, ‘Women as Civil Servants’ in the September issue of the Nineteenth Century under the name Margaret E. Harkness.

1882       Nurses Laurencina Potter, Beatrice’s mother, during her terminal illness. Publishes ‘Railway Labour’ in the December issue of the Nineteenth Century under the name Margaret E. Harkness.

1883       Publishes ‘The Municipality of London’ in the May issue of the National Review.

1884       Publishes Egyptian Life and History According to the Monuments (London: Religious Tract Society).

1884       Accompanies Beatrice Potter (later Webb) to Bavaria.

1885-88       Becomes briefly a member or supporter of the Social Democratic Federation, the first Marxist party in Britain.

1886       Rents a room at Katharine Buildings in the East End, London to observe the of the poor (from 31 May to 19 July).

1887       Under the pseudonym ‘John Law’ publishes A City Girl: A Realistic Story (London: Vizetelly & Co.) about seduction of a beautiful East End girl by a West End philanthropist. Her slum novel combines fact and fiction.

1887-88       Publishes a slum investigative series ‘Tempted London’ in the British Weekly.

1888       Joins the group around Henry Hyde Champion (1859-1928), editor of the Social Democratic Federation’s journal Justice, for which she publishes several of her articles.

1888       Becomes fascinated with the recently formed Salvation Army in which she sees the amalgamation of Christianity and socialism. Publishes ‘Salvationists and Socialists’ in Justice, on 24 March.

1888       Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx’s closest collaborator, writes his famous ‘realism letter’ to Margaret Harkness about her novel A City Girl: A Realistic Story, which he calls a small work of art (ein kleines Kunstwerk). He advises her that a successful realist novel should not depend only on ‘truth of detail’, but primarily on ‘the truthful reproduction of typical characters under typical circumstances’.

1888       Publishes Out of Work (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co.), a story about a young carpenter who leaves his rural English village to seek employment in London. The novel is an evocative description of unemployment, squalor and poverty and focuses on the ‘Bloody Sunday’ Trafalgar demonstration in November 1887.

1888       Publishes serially in the British Weekly from 6 April to 14 December documentary fiction Captain Lobe: A Story of the East End about the Salvation Army and the East London poverty.

1888       Also publishes ‘The Gospel of Getting On (To Olive Schreiner)’ in To-Day: A Monthly Magazine of Scientific Socialism, and Tempted London: Young Men (London: Hodder & Stoughton); a reprint of articles which appeared earlier in the British Weekly.

1888       Introduces Eleanor Marx to the slums of the East End.

1888       Supports, together with her friend Annie Besant, the Bryant and May Match Girl strike.

1888       Publishes ‘Home Industries’ in Justice (August).

1889       Captain Lobe: A Story of the Salvation Army is published in book form by Hodder & Stoughton, London; it is reissued in 1891 as In Darkest London; originally written under the pseudonym John Law.

1889       ‘A Pantomime Child: A Christmas Story’ appears in the British Weekly on 27 December.

1889       The second part of Tempted London appears under the title Toilers in London: or Inquiries concerning Female Labour in the Metropolis, with the name John Law (Margaret Harkness) as editor (London: Hodder & Stoughton).

1889       Contributes an essay ‘Barmaids’ to this series.

1889      Agitates for the London’s Great Dock Strike, which she later depicts in her novel, George Eastmont, the Wanderer (1905).

1889      Visits Cardinal Manning in September, during the Dock Strike, to request his mediation between the strikers and dock directors.

1889      Visits Manchester slums together with Beatrice Potter and Mrs Humphrey Ward in order to explore the causes of urban poverty.

1889      Edits, as John Law, a series of articles ‘Toilers of London’ for the British Weekly: A Journal of Social and Christian Progress, a dissenting newspaper.

1890       Introduces her second cousin Beatrice Potter to Sidney Webb, one of the most eminent early members of the Fabian Society.

1890       Publishes her last social question novel, A Manchester Shirtmaker: A Realistic Story of To-day (London: Authors’ Co-operative Publishing Co.).

1890       Also publishes in the Pall Mall Gazette: ‘Little Tim’s Christmas’, ‘His First Day’s Wages’, ‘The Future of the Labour Party’, ‘Salvation versus Socialism – In Praise of General Booth’.

1890       Travels to Germany and Austria to study labour conditions.

1891       Publishes as ‘John Law’ Captain Lobe under a new title: In Darkest London (London: W. Reeves) and ‘A Year of My Life’ in the October issue of the New Review. /p>

1891       Travels to Australia and New Zealand.

1891-2       After return to England works as an editor of Tinsley’s Magazine, which later becomes the short-lived Novel Review under her direction (February-December 1892). /p>

1892       Publishes serially ‘Roses and Crucifix’ in the feminist newspaper Woman’s Herald between 5 December 1891 and 27 February 1892.

1892       Becomes editor of Tinsley’s Magazine from April to January 1892. Continues to edit the magazine under the new title: The Novel Review until December.

1893       Publishes ‘Children of the Unemployed’ in the February issue of the New Review. /p>

1893       Begins serialising her unfinished novel Connie in the Labour Elector, British Socialist publication edited by Henry Hyde Champion, from June until early 1894, when the periodical ceases to appear.

1894       Travels to Australia for a second time to work as a foreign correspondent for the Fortnightly Review.

1894       Visits a co-operative labour farm in Pitt Town in February.

1894       Publishes ‘A Week on a Labour Settlement’ in the August issue of the Fortnightly Review.

1895       Resides in Coolgardie, Western Australia.

1895       Publishes under the pseudonym 'The Fever in Coolgardie' in Cosmos: An Illustrated Australian Magazine (29 June).

1896      .Opens a typewriting office in Coolgardie, Western Australia.

1897      Publishes Called to the Bar: A Coolgardie novel in the Western Mail, Perth, which explores migration from England to Australia and its effects.

1899      Publishes Imperial Credit (Adelaide: Vardon and Pritchard).

1903       Writes a weekly column, ‘The Passing Hour’, for the West Australian in Perth.

1903       Publishes ‘Two Christmases’ in the West Australian.

1904       Departs Australia for England. Writes 'A London Letter' for the West Australian.

1904       Publishes ‘A Leap Year Story’ in the West Australian, and ‘A Bush Drama. An Irony of Fate’ in the Evening Star, reprinted from the West Australian.

1905       Publishes George Eastmont: Wanderer (London: Burns & Oates) in which she recounts the London Dock Strike of 1889.

1905       Departs for Madras, India, on 17 February.

1905       Contributes articles to the West Australian.

1909?       Publishes Glimpses of Hidden India (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co.). Continues to publish articles in the West Australian

1912       Publishes the revised edition of Glimpses of Hidden India under the new title Indian Snapshots (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co.)

1913       Publishes The Horoscope (Calcutta, Simla and London: W. Thacker & Co., 1913.

1914       Publishes Modern Hyderabad (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co.)

1914       Returns to England to nurse her ailing mother.

1916       After the death of her mother, Margaret Harkness leaves for France to undertake undisclosed work.

1921       Publishes under the pseudonym John Law A Curate’s Promise: A Story of Three Weeks, September 14-October 5 1917 (London: Hodder & Stoughton), which narrates the curate’s decision to join the Salvation Army instead of the military as chaplain.

1923       Dies at Pensione Castagnoli, Florence, on 10 December, and is buried in the local Allori Cemetary on the next day.

Last modified 19 December 2018