Margaret was born in Kuching, capital of Sarawak on the Island of Borneo, two years after WWII formally came to an end. Sarawak, once ruled by three generations of “White Rajahs”, originally belonged to Brunei, whose ruler gave it to the first Brooke out of gratitude for putting down piracy in the waters there. The third and last of the Brookes presented Sarawak to the British Crown after the War. Sarawak remained a Crown Colony until 1963 when it became a part of Malaysia.
Margaret went to St. Teresa’s Convent School for Girls, from kindergarten till Form Five, after which she went across the road to St. Joseph’s School for Boys where, after Lower Six and Upper Six as it was then called, she sat for the Cambridge Higher School Certificate Examinations. Margaret graduated from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, with a degree in English Literature. She has a degree in Education from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She returned to Sarawak and taught Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy and “current modern” William Golding at Marudi Secondary School on the edge of the rainforest.
Her dream was to be a librarian – she would order books at the expense of the Education/Culture Ministry, read them first before conscientiously classifying them under the Dewey System, then getting others to shelve them. Or a Museum Curator. Dream on!
After marrying her husband she spent most of her time in Germany and made trips to Malaysia, where the first thing she did was to make a round of restaurants serving local food. Margaret was crazy about Nonya Kueh. She had no pets, only the birds that come and go in her garden – black birds, robins, thrushes, wrens and finches that sing so sweetly, and many that don’t, woodpeckers, magpies, daws and pigeons. She has also heard an owl call “to-whiih” but not the “who” that Horton heard. And she has never heard the owl call her name. ( “I Heard The Owl Call My Name” by Margaret Craven).
On May 8, 2011, Margaret Lim passed away peacefully in the arms of her loving husband and children. She had lost the fight against cancer and ended her journey on earth.
A dedication by Margaret’s sister Aileen:
“Maggie passed away on Sunday, 8 May 2011, in Germany. It is a very significant day that is so representative of her life. God could not have granted her a better gift as it was Mother’s Day, and as a creative writer, she would have appreciated the symbol very much. She also only left towards the end of the day, a mother to the last.
Looking back, I realise that she had that special touch of a mother in the way she played her roles in life: as a friend or as a family member – aunt, cousin, niece, sister, wife, and of course mother.
She was always generous, considerate and well-intentioned. She was full of mirth, amidst her seriousness. She never spoke ill of anyone. When an appropriate occasion arose, she always spoke proudly of her immediate family – Wolfhart, SuJen, Einhard, Ken.
I am certain that where she is now, she is shining among the angels, and is so very happy. And why not? In her relatively short life, she has done a lot, achieved a lot, and in no small way as a children’s writer. In this world of children, she was always in touch with God.
Although she and I were supposed to make several small journeys together, and she was supposed to travel to see her relatives and friends, she has gone on a greater Journey, after fulfilling her life’s purpose.
If we celebrate the fulfilled life of this wonderful soul, and be happy with her, our hearts will be healed. And we will remember her in our thoughts as if she has not left us.
Like her paternal grandmother and father who went before, whom she deeply loved, and to whom she dedicated two of her books, she was full of a Mother’s Love.”
- Aileen Lim