Born Marjorie King in 1928 in Southampton, England, Marjorie travelled to Kenya to work as a missionary in 1954. She worked at the S.J. Moore Bookshop on Government Road, now Moi Avenue in Nairobi, for some years. There she organised readings which were attended by, among others, Okot P'Bitek, the author of Song of Lawino, and Jonathan Kariara, a Kenyan poet. She met Macgoye, a medical doctor, and the two were married in 1960. In 1971, an anthology entitled Poems from East Africa included the acclaimed poem "A Freedom Song". Her 1986 novel Coming to Birth won the Sinclair Prize and has been used as a set book in Kenyan high schools. She has been called the "mother of Kenyan literature".