Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dame Catherine Cookson

I had read many of Catherine Cookson's novels and when I saw her memoir, "Before I Go", up on Amazon Kindle. I purchased it for $3.99. In it I discovered so many details previously unknown to me about this famous author's life.

She battled the most awful illnesses all through her life and yet kept up her writing throughout. She said it was an escape from harsh reality. I found this story to be very challenging in that she never gave up, no matter how much she suffered.

Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken woman, Kate, whom she believed to be her older sister. She wrote about her mother in one of her novels. Her childhood was deeply scarred by violence, fear, alcoholism, shame and guilt which gave her the inspiration for so many of her novels.
She began work in service, however, she fought hard for a better life and was determined to be a writer. She eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. He became the deep love of her life and nursed her through many of her recurring ailments.

Unfortunately whenever she attended evenings with her husband's alumni, the society wives 'looked down their noses' at this uneducated, yet prolific writer. Her knowledge of grammar was almost nil and naturally her husband corrected her writing. But many of the women would not believe she was the actual author of her work.

Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer - her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for the best regional novel of 1968 - her readership quickly spread throughout the world, and her many best-selling novels established her as one of the most popular of contemporary women novelists.

After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, in 1997. In her own words, this is what she thought of her beloved Tom.

"Fame came to me; I was made a Dame. But the greatest honour was to have your name those long years ago when I had no name of my own. For fifty-four years we have weathered the storms, our thoughts of one accord. Yet nowhere along the road have you sought reward for yourself."
Catherine Cookson died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998.

That quote brought tears to my eyes. as I, too, know what it's like to have such a loving husband.


Indie Publisher, Rita Galieh has written a trilogy of historical novels & also contributed to several US anthologies. She is now completing a third historical romance series. Besides her weekly blog, she can be found on Facebook and www.ritastellapress.com  

Rita studied art at the National Art School then joined the family ceramics studio. After their marriage, she and her husband attended Emmaus Bible College, and were also involved with Christian Television on Sydney’s Channel Nine. Currently she co-presents Vantage Point, an Australia-wide Christian FM radio program. She enjoys giving her fun filled presentations of Etiquette of the Victorian Era in costume.


  1. I hope it was a nice comment. But thanks anyway. :)

  2. Lovely post, Rita. I enjoyed reading Catherine’s books many years ago and I had no idea her life was full of hardship. Thanks for sharing her inspiring story with us. :)

  3. What an inspiring story--her life sounds like that of one of her heroines!