Alison Mary Dolling was born on 29 August, 1917, in Adelaide. Alison grew up in Tranmere and as a child attended Ellerslie College and Methodist Ladies College. She studied journalism at the Universities of Washington, Seattle and Berkeley California in the U. S. A., before travelling to London to study at Kings College. Alison returned to Australia after the outbreak of World War II and later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Classics) from the University of Adelaide.
With a keen interest in language and literature, Alison taught English for several years in different schools, including Frensham in New South Wales and the Presbyterian Girls College in Adelaide. Alison edited the South Australian English Teachers' Association Journal Opinion for ten years.
In 1966, Alison was appointed editor of the Women's Pages of The Chronicle and adopted the pen name of Mary Broughton. Through The Women's Pages, Alison fostered an interest in South Australian rural heritage until The Chronicle closed in 1975.
Alison published Chronicle Cameos in 1977 under her pen name of Mary Broughton. Chronicle Cameos was a collection of writings from her 'Women's Pages' articles and her readers. Her other publications include The History of Marion on the Sturt, commissioned by Marion City Council; and two histories of her own pioneering families, the Dollings and Spoers, in collaboration with her cousins. Both books were runners up in the Alexander Henderson Award by the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies. Alison also edited various publications, including From Shadow Into Light, which celebrated South Australian women artists. In January 2006, Alison published her last book: an account of her childhood and reflections on life between the two World Wars, entitled A Child Went Forth.
Alison died on 25 July, 2006.