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My name is Margaret Penfold.

People often ask why I picked on the British Mandate of Palestine as the focus for my writing.

I was brought up in Palestine, the daughter of a British telecommunications engineer. During the Palestinian Arab Rebellion of 1936-1939 I watched my father strap on a revolver before leading night squads off to repair sabotaged telephone lines. When WW2 broke my father, in addition to his day job, became an undercover agent for Mediterranean East Intelligence Service based in Cairo, part of his duties being to monitor Arab and Jewish reactions to acts of terorism and sabotage. He occasionally took me with him as camouflage so in 1940, in the middle of a crowd of local residents on Mt Carmel I watched while police and army personnel struggled to rescue passengers from the capsized SS.Patria.

A few weeks later, my mother and I spent an anxious couple of months on Mt Carmel after my father disappeared from a train travelling between Yugoslavia and Turkey. He had been arrested by Bulgarian police on German orders and eventually turned up in Athens, having escaped from a Bulgarian rural prison.

The following year while Rommel, already esconced in Egypt, appeared to be winning the Desert War, my father left me in charge of a fake army camp, set up on a beach between Haifa and Tel Aviv to deter German invaders. (This was because he had had to rush my seriously ill mother to hospital).

One horrible post-war day after I had been sent to school in England, I sat biting the back of my hand waiting for news of my father who had been at work in his office in the King David hotel when the Irgun blew it up.

These experiences left me with a lifelong interest in the British Mandate of Palestine. I have spent the past 25 years researching and improving my writing style so I can write novels that are entertaining as well as instructive.

When people ask which side of the middle east conflict I am on, I reply - it depends on which character I am writing about at the time.

 

a police flag from the British Mandate
A link to more pages about the British Mandate of Palestine
(including a list of relevant fiction and non-fiction)