Catherine Cookson was a British writer who was born in South Shields in Tyneside on 17th June 1906 as Catherine Ann McMullen and sadly died in Newcastle upon Tyne on 11th June 1998 at the age of 91. Being the illegitimate child of an alcoholic named Kate Fawcett she was raised by Rose and John McMullen, her grandparents, believing that her biological mother was her sister.
At the age of 34 she married Tom Cookson who was a teacher at Hastings grammar school, after she experienced four miscarriages it was discovered that Catherine has a rare vascular disorder known as telangiectasia which, among other things, results in anaemia. As a result of the miscarriages she had a mental breakdown which lead to depression which took her over 10 years to recover from.
To overcome her depression, Catherine took up writing as a form of therapy. While several of her books can be classed as romance novels, Catherine Cookson described them as “historical novels about people and conditions she knew.” Catherine Cookson, in her time as a writer, penned almost 100 books, some under the pen names of Catherine Marchant and, her childhood name, Katie McMullen. Her most read books include Colour Blind, Pure As The Lily and the much loved Feathers in the Fire.
Many of her books have been adapted for film and TV, including the Fifteen Streets, The Black Velvet Gown and The Cinder Path which starred Catherine Zeta Jones. Catherine Cookson was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1985 which was advanced to a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993.