Marghanita was born in Manchester, England, to a prominent family of Jewish intellectuals (Neville Laski was her father, Moses Gaster her grandfather and Harold Laski her uncle), she was educated at Lady Barn House School and St Paul's Girls' School in Hammersmith, worked in fashion, then studied English at Somerville College, Oxford She married publisher John Howard (in Paris), and worked in journalism.[clarification needed]
After her son and daughter were born, Laski began writing in earnest. Marghanita was an omnivorous reader; from 1958 onwards she became a prolific and compulsive contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary and by 1986 had "carded" around 250,000 quotations, making her (according to Ilan Stavans) "the supreme contributor, male or female, to the OED". In the 1960s, Laski was the science fiction critic for The Observer. Elected Vice Chairwoman of the Arts Council in 1982, she served as chair of its Literature Panel between 1980 and 1984.
Anthony Boucher described her novella The Victorian Chaise Longue as "an admirably written book, highly skilled in its economic evocation of time, place and character -- and a relentlessly terrifying one." Ecstasy: A Study of Some Secular and Religious Experiences has been compared to The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James in its importance.
- Love on the Supertax (1944) novel
- Stories of Adventure (1946) (editor?)
- The Patchwork Book (1946) editor
- To Bed with Grand Music (1946), as Sarah Russell
- Victorian Tales for Girls (1947) editor
- Tory Heaven or Thunder on the Right (1948) current affairs
- Little Boy Lost (1949) novel
- Toasted English (1949)
- Mrs Ewing, Mrs Molesworth and Mrs Hodgson Burnett (1950) biography
- The Village (1952) novel (reprinted by Persephone Books in 2004)
- The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953) novel (reprinted in 1999 by Persephone Books)
- The Tower (1955) shortstory
- Apologies (1955) caricature
- The Offshore Island (1959) play
- Ecstasy: a Study of Some Secular and Religious Experiences (1961) psychology
- A Chaplet for Charlotte Yonge (1965) editor with Georgina Battiscombe
- Jane Austen and Her World (1969) literary history
- God and Man (1971) with Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh religion
- George Eliot and Her World (1973) literary history
- Kipling's English History (1974) Rudyard Kipling poems, editor
- Everyday Ecstasy (1980) psychology
- Ferry, the Jerusalem Cat (1983) story
- From Palm to Pine: Rudyard Kipling Abroad and at Home (1987) biography
- Common Ground: an Anthology (1989) editor
- To Bed with Grand Music (2001) (posthumous)
Republished By Persephone Books
- "MARGHANITA LASKI NOVELIST AND CRITIC; AT 72". Boston Globe. Highbeam. 8 February 1988.
- Hastie, Scott (1993). Abbots Langley—a Hertfordshire Village. Abbots Langley Parish Council. ISBN 0-9520929-0-5.
- Charlotte Brewer (22 July 2010). "Examining the OED". Oxford University.
- Verónica Albin: On Dictionaries: A Conversation with Ilan Stavans. Translation Journal, Volume 9, No. 2, April 2005
- Brian W. Aldiss, "Book Review," sfImpulse, October 1966, p. 19.
- "Marghanita Laski". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
- Christine Finn: Chapter Eight Stanford University
- "Recommended Reading," F&SF, October 1954, p.95.
- Burchfield (2004)
- Burchfield, R. W. (2007). "Laski, Marghanita (1915–1988)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/39837. Retrieved 2012-04-11. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Marghanita Laski at Persephone Books
- Marghanita Laski at the Internet Movie Database
- "Two portraits of her". National Portrait Gallery.