Catherine Anne Cookson and Adoption

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British author

Cookson was born to a young unmarried woman and raised by her grandparents. Until she was seven she thought that her mother, Kate, was her older sister, and finding out that she was illegitimate was a lasting shock, leading a nervous breakdown in her thirties. But she went on to become one of the most successful novelists of all time.

She wrote over 100 historical romances, the first published when she was 44, many based on the industrial society of northern England in the nineteenth century, where young women from poor backgrounds made a success of themselves. Her total sales by the time of her death were over 100,000,000 volumes and she was consistently among the 10 most heavily-borrowed authors from British public libraries; a survey in 1988 showed that every third adult fiction book borrowed was by her. She married but never had children.


Cookson, Catherine. Our Kate. New edition. (London: Futura, 1971) Goodwin, Cliff. To Be a Lady: The Story of Catherine Cookson. (London: Arrow, 1995) Dudgeon, Piers. The Girl from Leam Lane: The Life and Writing of Catherine Cookson. (London: Headline Book Publishers, 1998) Who's Who, 1998