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About me

I grew up in sixties Salford, weaned on Hobson's Choice, Love on the Dole and Shelagh Delaney. Then I discovered Joyce, Eliot, romanticism and Hardy, conceived aspirations and went off to Nottingham to study English Literature. Eager to share what I'd learnt, and pretty keen to earn some money, I did a PGCE at Manchester University and went back to school.  After a few years teaching in Leeds, we came up to the north-east in 1988 and put down roots.  I worked in secondary schools for thirty years - the first twenty as a full-time teacher of English;  then ten years as a part-time school librarian.  At fifty-five, whilst studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, I finally started writing my first novel, Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree, published in 2014.

It was when I started volunteering at Gibside that I became possessed by the story of the Countess of Strathmore: it took two years of writing and research to produce My Name is Eleanor in 2016.  Immediately I had launched that book I started researching the follow-up, Molly Bowes.

I still volunteer at Gibside, in the 'inner pleasure grounds' - which always sounds rather suggestive - and in the Research Group.  There's another fascinating woman whose story is glittering on my mental horizon .... watch this space.

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My first book is dedicated to Jane Nicholson (formerly Evans) who died in September 2013, just two months before publication.  It was because of Jane that I stopped talking about writing a novel and went ahead and did it: as she memorably said, 'JFDI!' She was a real redhead, a great and much-loved friend, and I miss her.

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