Catherine Cookson (Catherine Anne Cookson) Biography
(1906–1998), (Catherine Anne Cookson), Our Kate, Catherine Cookson Country, The Lord and Mary Ann
British regional novelist, born in Tyne Dock, Jarrow. She is a popular and prolific writer, most of whose works are set in her native Tyneside. She was the illegitimate daughter of Kate McMullen, a domestic servant whom she believed was her sister, and whose story she tells in her interesting autobiography Our Kate (1969); Cookson herself went into service after leaving school at the age of 14. Catherine Cookson Country (1986) is another autobiographical work. Her writing career began after she moved south and joined the Hastings Writers' Circle in the 1940s. Many of her works feature a realistic working-class background with lively, unsentimental, earthy characters, and her heroines are strong, hardworking, and resourceful. She created the character of ‘Mary Ann’, who was to feature in a long series, beginning with The Lord and Mary Ann (1956). With The Round Tower (1968) Cookson received the Winifred Hotby Award for the best regional novel. Subsequent series were centred on the Mallen family (The Mallen Streak, 1973; The Mallen Girl, 1974; The Mallen Letter, 1974), and on Tilly Trotter (including Tilly Trotter, 1980; Tilly Trotter Wed, 1981; Tilly Trotter Widowed, 1982). More recent publications include The Obsession (1995), a more unusual novel dealing with a woman's need to protect her inheritance, and Plainer Still (1995), a memoir. See also romantic fiction.