One of the most popular writers of the 20th century, Catherine Cookson's story is as dramatic as any of her novels. Born in 1906, the illegitimate daughter of a domestic servant, she was brought up in Tyneside in one of the poorest communities of the western world. Her mother once begged barefoot from door to door and they lived in constant fear of the workhouse. But Catherine was determined to escape her situation and did so with enormous courage and energy, making her her way out of the slums of her childhood. After a tragic series of stillbirths and miscarriages, she attempted to "write it all out". All of her 97 novels are still in print. But the damage she suffered as a child left Cookson vulnerable and her health precarious. In this biography, Kathleen Jones has delved into early drafts of Cookson's own autobiography, and has also used as background the hours of privately taped conversation in which Cookson discusses much that she chose to keep secret in her own lifetime: her tortured feelings for her mother, her own mental torment and terrors, and her intense and devastating relationship with Nan Smith, who almost succeeded in wrecking Catherine's marriage.
KATHLEEN JONES was born and brought up on a hill farm in Cumbria and now lives with her partner, sculptor Neil Ferber, in a small house in an olive grove in northern Italy while working on another book. She has been writing since she was a child and has published twelve books including seven biographies, a novel and a collection of poetry. She lived for ten years in Africa and the Middle East, where she worked for the Qatar Broadcasting Corporation. Since then she has written extensively for BBC radio and contributed to several television documentaries.
Kathleen was appointed as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow in 2007. Her latest biography, 'Katherine Mansfield: The Storyteller' was published by Penguin NZ and Edinburgh University Press in 2010. A new 'Readers' Guide' to the life and work of Margaret Forster, called 'Margaret Forster: A Life in Books' is available as an e-book, and a novel 'The Sun's Companion' was published by The Book Mill in 2012. Her latest collection of poetry 'Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21', published by Templar Poetry, won the 2011 Straid Award.
She is best known for her award-winning biographies, but has also published poetry, feature articles and short fiction in a variety of national and international magazines and newspapers. Her short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio and on radio networks in Holland, Germany and Spain. She was one of the featured authors in the recent 'Save our Short Story Anthology' compiled by the Arts Council on the internet. As a journalist Kathleen has written articles and reviews for the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Express, and the TLS, as well as magazines such as SHE and Cosmo.
Kathleen Jones is an enthusiastic blogger, writing an on-line journal 'A Writer's Life' and a book review blog. She is part of the 'Tuesday Poem' group, based in New Zealand. Kathleen regularly leads creative writing workshops for fiction, poetry and life writing. In September each year she also tutors a residential writing course at Peralta in Italy with American novelist Mary-Rose Hayes.