Hungerford, Margaret Wolfe (née Hamilton ) (c.1852–1897), popular fiction writer, was born in Mileen, Ross Carbery, Co. Cork, the elder daughter of the Rev. Fitzjohn Stannus Hamilton, rector and vicar choral of St Faughnan's cathedral in Ross Carbery, and his wife Sarah (née Paye) of Kilworth, Co. Cork. Margaret was educated at Portarlington College, Queen's Co., where she displayed an early aptitude for literature, winning prizes for composition and reportedly writing ghost stories and fairy-tales to entertain her friends. In September 1872 she married Edward Argles, a solicitor based in Dublin, with whom she had three daughters. After he died she married in 1882 Thomas Henry Hungerford, a landlord and JP of Cahirmore, Ross Carbery, Co. Cork, with whom she had two sons and one daughter.
Hungerford embarked upon her literary career while still in her teens. Her earliest short stories appeared in weekly journals, and by the age of eighteen she had completed her very popular first novel, Phyllis, a romance published anonymously in 1877. A year later she published her most successful work, Molly Bawn, a light-hearted romance set, like many of her later novels, amid the landed Irish gentry. A prolific writer, she published some forty titles over the next nineteen years, mainly romantic novels but also collections of short stories and children's fiction, as well as numerous contributions to the British and American press. Her novels were initially published under pseudonyms such as ‘the author of Phyllis’ or ‘the author of Molly Bawn’, though later she favoured ‘The Duchess’ after her 1888 novel of the same name. Though conventional in terms of style and plot, her fiction wittily captured the romantic sensibilities of the fashionable milieu and won her a wide and faithful readership throughout the English-speaking world. Other notably successful novels were Mrs Geoffrey (1881), Rossmoyne (1883), A born coquette (1890), and A little Irish girl (1891). The Spectator, in its assessment of her work, found ‘a faculty truly remarkable for reproducing the vapid small talk, the shallow harmless “chaff” of certain strata of modern fashionable society’. Hungerford died of typhoid fever 24 January 1897 at her home in Bandon, Co. Cork.