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The Girl from Leam Lane

Piers Dudgeon

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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction, Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose write, Sagas

Revised and expanded edition of the bestselling Catherine Cookson biography to mark the centenary of her birth

Catherine Cookson was born 100 years ago in a run-down area on the south bank of the Tyne. Forty-four years later her debut novel, Kate Hannigan, established her as a bestselling storyteller of rare talent. But what readers didn't realise was that Kate Hannigan also represented the first step of the author's triumph over a nervous breakdown and a period of confinement in a mental asylum. Still in the throes of her illness, she was transforming her fears out of necessity through her art. Piers Dudgeon was granted exclusive interviews over a 15-year period until Catherine's death in 1998. Now, in the company of her family and others who declined to be interviewed during her lifetime, he sheds new light on the tortured drama of her personal life and her legacy to the nation. This revised biography is a revealing tribute to an enduringly popular writer in her centenary year, and will fascinate her many loyal fans.

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Piers Dudgeon

Piers Dudgeon is the author of more than thirty works of non-fiction. He worked for ten years as an editor in London before starting his own company, Pilot Productions, publishing books with authors as diverse as John Fowles, Catherine Cookson, Peter Ackroyd, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Conran and Ted Hughes. At the same time he wrote a number of books evocative of the spirit of place, including Dickens' London, Catherine Cookson Country, The English Vicarage Garden, The Spirit of Britain: A Guide to Literary Britain, along with Village Voices and The Country Child. Subsequently he left London for Yorkshire, where he wrote a series of oral industrial histories of Glasgow, Liverpool and London's East End, the annual Virgin Alternative Guide to British Universities, which still involves him in speaking to sixth forms across the country, and biographies of Catherine Cookson, the du Maurier family, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Maeve Binchy, the composer Sir John Tavener, the thinker Edward de Bono, and the novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. Today he is publishing a growing list of novelists, including Angus Stewart, Giovanni Guareschi, and shortly Alessandra Lavagnino. In 2015 his biography, The Real Peter Pan: The Tragic Life of Michael Llewelyn Davies was published in the UK by The Robson Press; in 2016 in America by Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin's Press.