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 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