Martha Tolles was born 1921 in Oklahoma City. When she was still a toddler, Martha and her family moved to Rye, New York. There, she grew up surrounded by two brothers--Bruce and John. Her mother taught third grade and later started a reading clinic. Martha attended Smith College in Massachusetts and graduated with a bachelor's degree in English.
In 1941, America entered WWII. While her future husband, Roy Tolles, served as a fighter pilot, Martha pursued her career as a newspaper reporter and an editor of Publisher’s Weekly. In 1944, Martha and Roy married, and when the war ended, they moved first to Cambridge while he attended Harvard Law School, then to Los Angeles, California to raise a family.
While starting a new career as a mother of five boys and one girl, Martha began writing stories for children which were published in several magazines. She authored thirty short stories and essays. Her first book, Too Many Boys--later renamed Katie and Those Boys--was published in 1965.
In total, Martha wrote eight books for Scholastic which sold over 2.3 million copies collectively. Later, her books Darci in Cabin 13 and Marrying off Mom became International Reading List finalists, Secret Sister won the finalist award, and Who’s Reading Darci’s Diary became a Junior Literary Guild Selection. Martha has recently explored the genre of adult historical fiction with her latest novel Love and Sabotage.
Today, Tolles is a member of the Authors Guild and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Furthermore, her papers—including books, letters, and manuscripts—have been accepted at the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History at her alma mater Smith College.