Alison Marshall was born in 1959 in Dunedin, New Zealand. She became a member of the New Zealand Baha'i community in 1980. At that time, she was living in the small northern town of Kaikohe, where she was taught the Baha'i Faith by a local Maori couple. Over the next two years she moved to Wellington, where her daughter was born. After leaving the father of her child, she settled again in her home town of Dunedin, where she participated actively in the local Baha'i community.
During the 1980s, Alison served on the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Dunedin for about five years. In 1987, she went on pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel. Between 1981 and 1991, Alison attended the University of Otago, gaining a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws. She married Steve Marshall (nee Bollam) in 1991. In 1992, she began her career as a business writer, becoming a joint owner of Right Words New Zealand Ltd in 1995 and retiring in 2015.
In late 1994, Alison and Steve joined the Internet discussion group 'Talisman' (Talisman@indiana.edu), which was set up by a small group of Baha'i academics for discussion on the Baha'i Faith. Over the next 18 months, it became clear that the discussions were considered heretical by the Baha'i administration. A number of the participants resigned from the Baha'i community when they were threatened with being declared 'covenant breakers', which is traditionally punished with shunning.
This event had a profound effect on Alison, who decided in 1998 to voice her concerns on Talisman about the actions of the administration and the shift towards fundamentalism in the Baha'i community. Over the next two years, Alison also developed a keen interest in Sufism or Islamic Mysticism.
In March 2000, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of New Zealand was told by the Universal House of Justice to remove Alison's name from the membership rolls of the New Zealand Baha'i community. She took a dispute over their actions to the Privacy Commissioner and later to the High Court. Following this, Alison moved on to pursue new spiritual directions as an 'unenrolled Baha'i'. This is the term given to people who are Baha'i by faith but not enrolled members of the Baha'i community.
Alison now lives in Northland, New Zealand, on a small farm with her husband and flock of chickens. She has three major projects. The first is to administer the Windflower Translation Project, which promotes the translation of Baha'u'llah's writings, and the other two projects are to write about the philosophy of Shaykh Ahmad and its relationship to Baha'i philosophy and to complete a book about Baha'u'llah's mystical path, which she is writing for a general Western audience.