Martha Baillie was born in Toronto. After studies at the University of Edinburgh and the Sorbonne in Paris, she returned to Toronto where she continued her studies at the University of Toronto, and for a time trained as an actor. It was following a year of extensive travel in Asia in 1982 that Baillie began writing, and had her first poems and a novel published. She is the author of four novels, and has been published in Canada, Germany and Hungary.

Her novel, The Incident Report (2009) was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of the year, and was longlisted for the National Post’s Canada Also Reads. Her previous novel, The Shape I Gave You was a national bestseller and was included in Great Reads: Best of 2006-2008 (Toronto Public Library). Martha is a recipient of grants from the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Descant, Prairie Fire and the Antigonish Review. The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach was published by Brick in 2007. Her manuscript-based sculptural installation, Core Sample, has been shown in the Sidespace Gallery and the Type Books basement gallery. She has worked part time for the Toronto Public Library in branches throughout the city for twenty years. Baillie is a bilingual storyteller (English/French) who has told in schools around the city and at the Toronto International Storytelling Festival.