One of Canada's most esteemed and beloved authors by the end of her literary career,[4]Laurence began writing short stories shortly after her marriage, as did her husband. Each published fiction in literary periodicals while living in Africa, but Margaret continued to write and expand her range. Her early novels were influenced by her experience as a minority in Africa. They show a strong sense of christian symbolism and ethical concern for being a white person in a colonial state.It was after her return to Canada that she wrote the Stone Angel, the book for which she is best known. Set in a fictional Manitoba small town called Manawaka, the novel is narrated retrospectively by Hagar Shipley, a ninety-year-old woman living in her eldest son’s home in Vancouver. Published in 1964, the novel is of the literary form that looks at the entire life of a person, and Laurence produced a novel from a Canadian experience. After finishing school, the narrator moves from Toronto to Manitoba, and marries a rough-mannered homesteader, Bram Shipley, against the wishes of her father, who then disinherits her — disinheritance is a recurring theme in much of Laurence's fiction. The couple struggles through the economic hardship and climatic challenges of Canadian frontier existence, and Hagar, unhappy in the relationship, leaves Bram, moving with her son John to Vancouver where she works as a domestic for many years, betraying her social class and upbringing. The novel was for a time required reading in many North American school systems and colleges.[5]Laurence was published by Canadian publishing company McClelland and Stewart, and she became one of the key figures in the emerging Canadian literature tradition. Her published works after the Stone Angel explore the changing role of women's lives in the 1970s. Although on the surface her later works like the Diviners depict very different roles for women than her earlier novels do, Laurence's career remained dedicated to presenting a female perspective on contemporary life, depicting the choices — and consequences of those choices — women must make to find meaning and purpose.In later life, Laurence was troubled when a fundamentalist Christian group succeeded in briefly removing the Diviners as course material from Lakefield District Secondary School, her local secondary school.The Stone Angel, a feature-length film based on Laurence's novel, written and directed by Kari Skogland and starring Ellen burst unpermitted in Fall 2007.

In 1944, Laurence attended Winnipeg's United College, an arts and theology college associated with the University of Manitoba, that would later become the University of Winnipeg. Before attending, she applied for academic scholarships that were granted based on her academic record and financial need. During her first year at United College, Laurence studied in a liberal arts program which included courses in English, History, Ethics, and Psychology. Laurence's interest in English literature was present even in high school, and her interest in writing her own works continued into her formal education. Within the first few weeks of attending the college, Laurence had works of poetry published in the University of Manitoba's publication The Manitoban. She submitted this work under the pseudonym "Steve Lancaster", in what she later credits as a reference to the Lancaster bomber, a highly powerful and successful bomber of the Second World War. Another of Laurence's achievements during her first year of college was being welcomed into the English Club, an organization of senior students who discussed poetry, led by professor Arthur L. Phelps. This was her first time being around peers who were also passionate about literature, and it was an opportunity for her to expand her knowledge as both scholar and writer. "Tony's", a part-cafeteria, part-coffee shop in the basement of United College, was another important place for Laurence to share her literary interests with colleagues. She would meet with friends and discuss literature; those who were writers would share their works with the group. Laurence's years in college not only shaped her from an academic perspective, they also provided opportunities for her to develop creatively and professionally.