Novelists, Poets and Scriptwriters

Susanna Wright (Poet) 1697-1784

Born 4 Aug 1697
Died 1 Dec 1784
Aged 87

Susanna Wright was an 18th-century colonial English-American poet, pundit, botanist, business owner, and legal scholar who was influential in the political economy of Pennsylvania as one of the Thirteen Colonies and in the formation of the United States.

Early Life and Family

Wright was born in Warrington to the Quaker businessman John Wright and Patience Gibson. She had two brothers, John Jr. and James, and two younger sisters, Elizabeth and Patience.

In 1714, her parents emigrated to Pennsylvania, taking the three youngest children but leaving Wright in England to continue her education. She joined them in 1718. Her mother died four years later. Around 1724, her father began exploring the Conejohela Valley, and he settled his remaining family there a few years later. In 1730, he obtained a patent to operate what became known as Wright’s Ferry on the lower Susquehanna River, and in 1738 he built the still extant Wright’s Ferry Mansion for his children.

Wright was well-educated, becoming multilingual (besides her native English, she knew Latin, French, and Italian) and displaying the wide-ranging scientific, agricultural, and literary interests typical of Enlightenment culture.

Wright never married and lived in the lower Susquehanna River area for the rest of her life. She managed her father’s household after her mother’s death in 1722 and, after her father died in 1749, helped to take care of her brother James’s family. In the 1740s, Wright moved into a mansion named Bellmont (since demolished), having been bequeathed a life interest in it by one of her father’s partners in the ferry venture, Samuel Blunston.

Among other pursuits, she raised hops, hemp, flax, indigo, and silkworms, establishing the first silk industry in Pennsylvania and receiving an award from the Philadelphia Silk Society in 1771. Silk extracted from her several thousand silkworms was dyed locally and then sent to England to be woven into the heavier grades of silk cloth suitable for mantuas, as well as the lighter grades needed for stockings. There is folklore that in the 1770s, Benjamin Franklin took a piece of Wright’s cloth to Queen Charlotte of Britain as a gift. Wright wrote an essay on silkworm culture that was published posthumously. She also studied the medicinal uses of herbs and formulated medicines for her neighbours.

Poetry and punditry

Wright was part of an informal but influential group of mid-Atlantic women and men writers; the female members included the poet and pundit Hannah Griffitts (who considered her a mentor) and Milcah Martha Moore, the writers Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson and Anna Young Smith, and the historian and diarist Deborah Norris Logan. She wrote poetry throughout her life, and many of her known poems were produced in later years. Some 30 of her poems are included in Moore’s commonplace book, a compilation of poetry and prose that was published in 1997 under the title Milcah Martha Moore’s Book. One of the poems is written to Mary Norris Dickinson. Wright is one of the three dominant female contributors to Moore’s commonplace book, along with Griffitts and Fergusson. Contrary to the then-usual practice, Wright did not write under a pseudonym; in Moore’s book her poems are attributed either to ‘S. Wright’ or to ‘S.W.’ It is uncertain how many poems Wright produced in total, but it is likely that many are now lost. An early 19th-century reminiscence of Wright by the much younger Deborah Norris Logan states that Wright “wrote not for fame, [and] never kept copies” of her work.

Wright’s poems range from occasional verses to mystical poetry and meditations on such enduring themes as justice, time, death, immortality, friendship, family, and marriage. In one poem, for example, she calls memory “A Bubble on the Water’s Shining Face.” Some of her poems could be quite trenchant.

A long poem written for one of her close friends and fellow unmarried women, “To Eliza Norris—at Fairhill,” questions the “divine law” used to justify women’s inequality, including in marriage. Eliza Norris raised her niece, Mary Norris. Mary Norris in 1770 married Framer of the Constitution John Dickinson in a civil ceremony. A passage reads:

“But womankind call reason to their aid,
And question when or where that law was made,
That law divine (a plausible pretence)
Oft urg’d with none, & oft with little sense.”

Wright died on 1 December 1784 at the age of 87 after showing some signs of dementia.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Anna Laetitia Barbauld (Novelist and Poet) 1745-1825

Born 20 Jun 1743
Died 9 Mar 1825
Aged 81

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Anna’s former home on Dial Street, now the Conservative Club

Anna Laetitia Barbauld was a writer of poetry and prose and born in Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire. She lived in Warrington.

She was born Anna Laetitia Aikin. Her father, the Reverend John Aikin, a Presbyterian minister and schoolmaster, kept an academy for boys, whose education she shared, and thus became acquainted with French, Italian, Latin and Greek. In 1758, Mr Aikin moved his family to Warrington to act as a theological tutor at Warrington Academy. In 1773, Anna published a volume of Poems, which was very successful, and collaborated with her brother, Dr John Aikin, in a volume of Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose.

In 1774 she married Rochemont Barbauld, a member of a French Protestant family settled in England. In 1785 they left for the Continent, for the benefit of Mr Barbauld’s health. On their return about two years later, he was appointed to a church at Hampstead. In 1802 they moved to Stoke Newington. Through her book of poems, Barbauld became well known in London literary circles.

In her lifetime Barbauld was most famous for her children’s books — a series of four age-adapted reading primers entitled Lessons for Children (1778-9) and her Hymns in Prose for Children (1781). Barbauld became increasingly violent towards his wife, and eventually drowned himself in 1808. There is a memoir of Barbauld written by her niece Lucy Aikin.

The second image shows the site of the home of Anna on Dial Street, now the Warrington Conservative Club. Barbauld Street in Warrington is named after her.

You might be interested in knowing that there is a memorial plaque on the house she lived at in London. It reads:

Poet and writer
Lived and died here 1802-1825
(113 Stoke Newington Church Street)

Information retrieved from Wikipedia. This article incorporates text from the Encyclopedia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Lucy Aikin (Novelist and Poet) 1781-1864

Born 6 Nov 1781
Died 29 Jan 1864
Aged 82

Lucy Aikin was born in Warrington into a distinguished literary family of prominent Unitarians. She was an author, poet and historical writer.

Lucy Aikin’s aunt was Anna Laetitia Barbauld (profiled earlier), a woman of letters who wrote poetry and essays as well as early children’s literature. Lucy’s father, Dr. John Aikin, was a medical doctor, historian, and author. Her grandfather, also called John Aikin (1713–1780), was a Unitarian scholar and theological tutor, closely associated with Warrington Academy. Lucy’s brother was Arthur Aikin (1773–1854), chemist, mineralogist and scientific writer, featured in the Science and Education section.

Lucy was educated by her father and her aunt, an early critic of the education system. She “read widely in English, French, Italian, and Latin literature and history”, and began writing for magazines at the age of seventeen, and at an early age assisted her father as an editor in his writings as well.

Aikin was interested in early education, and as such published several works to assist young readers:

Poetry for Children: Consisting of Short Pieces to be Committed to Memory (1801)

Juvenile Correspondence or Letters, Designed as Examples of the Epistolary Style, for Children of Both Sexes (1811)

An English Lesson Book, for the Junior Classes (1828)

The Acts of Life: of Providing Food, of Providing Clothing, of Providing Shelter (1858).

Aikin also translated the French texts: Louis Francois Jauffret’s The Travels of Rolando (publication appears to be around 1804), and Jean Gaspard Hess’s The Life of Ulrich Zwingli (1812), a life of the leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. She was also responsible for two creative works: Epistles on Women, Exemplifying their Character and Condition in Various Ages and Nations, with Miscellaneous Poems (1810), and her only work of fiction, Lorimer, a Tale (1814). She produced biographical works: Memoir of John Aikin, MD (1823), The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1825), The Life of Anne Boleyn (1827), and The Life of Joseph Addison (1843).

However, as memoirs and obituaries are quick to point out, she was probably most famous for her historical works: Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth (1818), Memoirs of the Court of James I (1822), and Memoirs of the Court of Charles I (1833).

Under the pseudonym Mary Godolphin, Lucy Aikin wrote versions of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

She was remarkable for her conversational powers, and was also an admirable letter-writer. She died at Hampstead, London in 1864, where she had lived for forty years.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Sarah Grand (Novelist) 1854-1943

Born 10 Jun 1854
Died 12 May 1943
Aged 88

Sarah Grand by Mendelssohn

Portrait of Sarah Grand

Both images are in the public domain
due to the death of the author plus 70 years.

Sarah Grand was a feminist writer active from 1873 to 1922. Her work revolved around the New Woman ideal.

Sarah Grand was born Frances Elizabeth Bellenden Clarke in Rosebank House, Donaghadee, County Down, Ireland, of English parents. Her father was Edward John Bellenden Clarke (1813–1862) and her mother was Margaret Bell Sherwood (1813–1874). When her father died, her mother took her and her siblings back to Bridlington, England to be near her family who lived at Rysome Garth near Holmpton in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Grand’s education was very sporadic, yet she managed with perseverance to make a career for herself as an activist and writer, drawing on her travels and life experiences.

In 1868 Grand was sent to the Royal Naval School, Twickenham, but was soon expelled for organizing groups that supported Josephine Butler’s protests against the Contagious Diseases Act, which persecuted prostitutes as infected women, as the sole cause of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, subjecting them to indignities such as inspection of their genitals and enclosure in locked hospital wards.

Grand was then sent to a finishing school in Kensington, London. In August 1870, at the age of sixteen, she married widowed Army surgeon David Chambers McFall, who was 23 years her senior and had two sons from his previous marriage: Chambers Haldane Cooke McFall and Albert William Crawford McFall. Grand and McFall’s only child, David Archibald Edward McFall, was born in Sandgate, Kent, on 7 October 1871. He became an actor and took the name Archie Carlaw Grand.

From 1873 to 1878 the family travelled in the Far East, providing Grand with more material for her fiction. In 1879 they moved to Norwich, and in 1881 to Warrington where her husband retired to the residence on Folly Lane, Bewsey, now known as Villaggio Hotel, or Tyrol House as it was previously known.

Upon returning to England, she and her husband became sexually estranged by her husband’s bizarre sexual appetites. Grand felt constrained by her marriage. She turned to writing, but her first novel, Ideala, self-published in 1888, enjoyed limited success and some negative reviews.

She used her experience of suffocation in marriage and the joy of consequent liberation in her fictional depictions of pre-suffrage women with few political rights and options, trapped in oppressive marriages. Later works would have a more sympathetic stance to males, such as Babs the Impossible in which the single noble women would feel resurgence in their worth encouraged by an idealistic self-made man.

Through her husband’s work as an army surgeon, Grand learned of the anatomical physiology of the nature of sexually transmitted diseases. She used this knowledge in her 1893 novel The Heavenly Twins, warning of the dangers of syphilis, advocating sensitivity rather than condemnation for the young women infected with this disease.

Rebirth as Sarah Grand

Clarke renamed herself Sarah Grand in 1893 with the publication by Heinemann of her novel The Heavenly Twins. This feminine pen name represented the archetype of the “New Woman” developed by her and her female colleagues. Grand established the phrase “New Woman” in a debate with Ouida in 1894.

She lived briefly in London, then, after her husband’s sudden death in February 1898, moved to Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where her stepson writer and illustrator, Haldane MacFall came to lodge for several years with her. During her stay in Tunbridge Wells she took an active part in the local women’s suffrage societies, as well as travelling extensively, particularly to the United States on a lecture tour in the wake of the notoriety of her novel The Heavenly Twins. Although it gained her mixed and often angry criticism, her work was well received by notable authors such as George Bernard Shaw.

In 1920 she moved to Crowe Hall at Widcombe in Bath, Somerset where she served from 1922 to 1929 as Mayoress alongside Mayor Cedric Chivers. When her home was bombed in 1942, Grand was persuaded to move to Calne in Wiltshire, where she died the following year on 12 May 1943, a month before her 89th birthday.

She is buried in Lansdown Cemetery, Bath, Somerset, alongside her sister, Nellie. Her son Archie outlived her by only a year, dying in a London air raid in 1944.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

George Edgar (Novelist) 1877-1918

Born 11 Jun 1877
Died Apr 1918
Aged 40

George Edgar was a journalist and writer of fiction. Born at Warrington, on 11 June 1877, he was the eldest son on Peter Edgar. He married Jeannie, youngest daughter of Thomas, D Howard, of Dewsbury, and had issue one son and three daughters.

He was educated privately and was connected with the provincial press for many years, and later with London journals. He was editor of “Modern Business” [1909], “Careers” [1910-11] and Associate-editor of the “Advertizers’ Weekly”. He contributed to many daily and weekly journals, stories, sketches, articles, and essays, and wrote on subjects relating to journalism.

His book The Red Admiral is a murder mystery set in England; this book involves a criminal gang called the Red Four led by a mysterious Red Colonel, a fortune gathered by them which is taken and hidden by a former associate, followed by his discovery and murder. His daughter, Vesta Copeland, and her boyfriend, Stanley Waring, must solve the mystery if she is to live. It was published by D. Appleton and Company, New York in 1913. It is the only mystery from the English author.

Other publications included:

The Blue Bird’s Eye [1912],

Martin Harvey [1912] a biography of the English actor;

Swift Nick of the New York Road [1913] the story of the famous 17th century highwayman;

The Pride of Fancy [1914] A boxer wins the match and a showman’s daughter despite a lustful crook’s hold on a knight.

Kent, the Fighting Man [1916]. A disowned gambler turns boxer and ruins cardsharpers by getting them to beat his opponent

Honours of War [1916]

He resided at 2 Chartham Terrace, Ramsgate, and died in [April] 1918.

Richmal Crompton 1890-1969

Born 15 Nov 1890
Died 11 Jan 1969
Aged 78

Richmal Crompton Lamburn, pictured on the cover of her biography.
The image is issued under the fair use policy – mywarrington is a non-commercial website.

Richmal Crompton Lamburn was a popular English writer, best known for her Just William series of books, humorous short stories, and to a lesser extent adult fiction books.

Richmal Crompton Lamburn was born in Bury, Lancashire, the second child of the Rev. Edward John Sewell Lamburn, a Classics master at Bury Grammar School and his wife Clara (née Crompton). Her brother, John Battersby Crompton Lamburn, also became a writer, remembered under the name John Lambourne for his fantasy novel The Kingdom That Was (1931) and under the name “John Crompton” for his books on natural history.

Richmal Crompton attended St Elphin’s Boarding School for the daughters of the clergy, originally based in Warrington. She later moved with the school to a new location in Darley Dale, near Matlock, Derbyshire in 1904.

In order to further her chosen career as a schoolteacher, she won a scholarship to Royal Holloway College, part of the University of London in Englefield Green, Surrey. Crompton graduated in 1914 with a BA honours degree in Classics (II class). She took part in the Women’s Suffrage movement.

In 1914, she returned to St Elphin’s as a Classics mistress and later, at age 27, moved to Bromley High School in southeast London where she began her writing in earnest. Cadogan (1993) shows that she was an excellent and committed teacher at both schools. Having contracted poliomyelitis in 1923 she was left without the use of her right leg. She gave up her teaching career and began to write full-time. Later in her forties, she suffered from breast cancer and had a mastectomy.

She never married and had no children; she was an aunt and a great-aunt. Her William stories and her other literature were extremely successful and, three years after she retired from teaching, Crompton was able to afford to have a house (The Glebe) built in Bromley Common for herself and her mother, Clara.

In spite of her disabilities, during the Second World War she volunteered for the Fire Service.

Crompton died in 1969 at the age of 78, after a heart attack, in Farnborough Hospital. Crompton had fallen ill on the drive home from visiting her niece’s home in Chelsfield, Kent. After feeling unwell during the night, Crompton telephoned friends the next morning and died within an hour of being taken to hospital.

Crompton left the copyright of all her books to her niece, Mrs Richmal C. L. Ashbee of Chelsfield, Kent; along with £57,623.


Crompton’s best known books are the William stories, about a mischievous 11-year-old schoolboy and his band of friends, known as “The Outlaws”. Her first published short story featuring William was “Rice Mould Pudding”, published in Home Magazine in 1919. (She had written “The Outlaws” in 1917, but it was not published until later.) In 1922, the first collection, entitled Just William, was published. She wrote 38 other William books throughout her life. The last, William the Lawless, was published posthumously in 1970.

The William books sold over twelve million copies in the United Kingdom alone. They have been adapted for films, stage-plays, and numerous radio and television series. Illustrations by Thomas Henry contributed to their success.

Crompton saw her real work as writing adult fiction. Starting with The Innermost Room (1923), she wrote 41 novels for adults and published nine collections of short stories. Their focus was generally village life in the Home Counties. Though these novels have the same inventiveness and lack of sentimentality as the ‘William’ books, after the Second World War, such literature had an increasingly limited appeal. Even William was originally created for a grown-up audience, as she saw Just William as a potboiler (Cadogan, 1993).

As for the source of inspiration of the main character William, Crompton never disclosed it and therefore different opinions exist. Presumably it was the result of mixing observations of children she worked with or knew with her own imagination. According to the actor John Teed, whose family lived next door to Crompton, the model for William was Crompton’s nephew Tommy:

As a boy I knew Miss Richmal Crompton Lamburn well. She lived quietly with her mother in Cherry Orchard Road, Bromley Common. My family lived next door. In those days it was a small rural village. Miss Lamburn was a delightful unassuming young woman and I used to play with her young nephew Tommy. He used to get up to all sorts of tricks and he was always presumed to be the inspiration for William by all of us. Having contracted polio she was severely crippled and confined to a wheelchair. Owing to her restricted movements she took her setting from her immediate surroundings which contained many of the features described, such as unspoilt woods and wide streams and Biggin Hill Aerodrome, very active in the Twenties.

Crompton’s fiction centres around family and social life, dwelling on the constraints that they place on individuals while also nurturing them. This is best seen in her depiction of children as puzzled onlookers of society’s ways. Nevertheless, the children, particularly William and his Outlaws, almost always emerge triumphant.

The William books have been translated into nine languages.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia, where you can find a list of her publications.

Ann Pilling (Author) 1944-

Born 17 Oct 1944

Ann Pilling  is an English author and poet best known for young adult fiction. She has also written horror fiction under the pen name Ann Cheetham.

Pilling was born in Warrington, Lancashire, and grew up in a house “groaning with books”. She started writing at eight and she was going to church alone at twelve. She read English at King’s College London and wrote a Master’s thesis on C. S. Lewis.

For Henry’s Leg, published by Viking Kestrel in 1985, she won the annual Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children’s writers.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia, where you can find a list of her publications.

Richard Curtis (Scriptwriter) 1958-

Born 8 Nov 1956

Richard Whalley Anthony Curtis, CBE is a screenwriter, producer and film director.

Curtis was born in Wellington, New Zealand. but for a short period in the 1970s, Curtis lived in Warrington, where he attended Appleton Grammar School (now Bridgewater High School), before he won a scholarship to Harrow School, where, as head boy, he abolished fagging, which was a traditional practice in British public schools and also at many other boarding schools, dating back to the 17th century, whereby younger pupils were required to act as personal servants to the eldest boys.

He is the son of Glyness S. and Anthony J. Curtis. His father was a Czechoslovakian refugee who moved to Australia when aged thirteen and became an executive at Unilever. Curtis and his family lived in several different countries during his childhood, including Sweden and the Philippines, before moving to Great Britain when he was 11.

Curtis attended Papplewick School in Ascot, Berkshire (as did his younger brother Jamie). He achieved a first-class Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature at Christ Church, Oxford. At the University of Oxford, Curtis met and began working with Rowan Atkinson, after they both joined the scriptwriting team of the Etceteras revue, part of the Experimental Theatre Club. He appeared in the company’s “After Eights” at the Oxford Playhouse in May 1976.

One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he is known primarily for romantic comedy films, among them Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Love Actually (2003), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), About Time (2013) and Yesterday (2019). He is also known for the drama War Horse (2011) and for having co-written the hit sitcoms BlackadderMr. Bean and The Vicar of Dibley. His early career saw him write material for the BBC’s Not the Nine O’Clock News and ITV’s Spitting Image.

In 2007, Curtis received the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award, the highest award given to a filmmaker by the British Film Academy (BAFTA).

At the 2008 Britannia Awards, Curtis received the BAFTA Humanitarian Award for co-creating Comic Relief with Sir Lenny Henry, which has raised in excess of £1 billion, and for his contributions to other charitable causes. These include his founding of Make Poverty History. He organised the Live 8 concerts with Bob Geldof to publicise poverty, particularly in Africa, and pressure G8 leaders to adopt his proposals for ending it. He has written of his work in The Observer in the Global development section in 2005.[29]

Curtis helped spearhead the launch of the Robin Hood tax campaign in 2010. The campaign fights for a 0.05% tax levied on each bank trade ranging from shares to foreign exchange and derivatives that could generate $700bn worldwide and be spent on measures to combat domestic and international poverty as well as fight climate change.

In 2008, he was ranked number 12 in a list of the “100 most powerful people in British culture” compiled by The Telegraph. In 2012, Curtis was one of the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork—the cover of The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Curtis currently lives in Notting Hill in London.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Robin Jarvis (Novelist) 1963-

Born 8 May 1963

Robin Jarvis  is a British Young-Adult fiction and children’s novelist, who writes dark fantasy, suspense and supernatural thrillers.

Jarvis was born in Liverpool, the youngest of four children, and grew up in Warrington, attending Penketh High School. His favourite subjects at school were Art and English and he went on to study Graphic Design at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University). After college, he moved to London and worked in the television and advertising industries as a model-maker. He lives in Greenwich in southeast London.

His books for young adults have featured the inhabitants of a coastal town battling a monumental malevolence with the help of its last supernatural guardian (The Witching Legacy), a diminutive race of Werglers (shape shifters) pitched against the evil might of the faerie hordes (The Hagwood Trilogy), a sinister “world-switching” dystopian future, triggered by a sinister and hypnotic book (Dancing Jax), Norse Fates, Glastonbury crow-demons and a time travelling, wise-cracking teddy bear. (The Wyrd Museum series), dark powers, a forgotten race and ancient evils on the North Yorkshire coast (The Whitby Witches trilogy), epic medieval adventure (The Oaken Throne) and science-fiction dramatising the “nefarious intrigue” within an alternate Tudor realm, peopled by personalities of the time, automata servants and animals known as Mechanicals and ruled by Queen Elizabeth I. (Deathscent).

Jarvis’ books for younger readers have featured anthropomorphic rodents and small mammals – especially mice – as featured in the Deptford Mice series. A number of his works are based in London, in and around Deptford and Greenwich where he used to live, Felixstowe, or in Whitby, the setting for The Whitby Witches trilogy and his latest series: The Witching Legacy.

His first novel – The Dark Portal, featuring the popular Deptford Mice – was the runner up for the Smarties book prize in 1989.

His work has been described as “genre Busting” and “original, spooky, unusual, psychological supernatural horror fantasy with a very modern twist”. Jarvis has said that he is not a writer of horror fiction, however his work has also been compared to that of “…Stephen King, but for Young Adults.”

The Deptford Mice was adapted and dramatised by Tiny Dog Productions, and staged in January 2010 and April 2011.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia, where you can see a list of his publications.

Mandasue Heller (Novelist, Actress, Musician)

Mandasue’s latest book, Macmillan publishing, June 2022

Mandasue Heller was born at the Old Warps nursing home in Victoria Park, Warrington. I met Mandasue at a book launch and Q&A session and asked her to give me a brief biography for the website. The text here is in her own words.

Thanks for visiting my author page. To tell you a little about myself, I grew up in a showbizzy household. My glamorous mum (an actress and later one half of a female comedy duo) and my dad were friends with some of the major artistes of the day, and their star-studded parties were the stuff of legend – and a major fascination for me and my sister as we watched the beautiful people at play from the top of our stairs.

I developed a passion for reading at an early age and taught myself to type on my mum’s old Royal typewriter by copying passages from books I’d ‘borrowed’ from her collection – my all-time favourite being The Happy Hooker, which stirred in me a passion for gritty realism. Catherine Cookson’s work also resonated deeply with me, and she was, in my opinion, the trailblazer for writers like myself whose stories concern poverty, hardship and abuse from the perspective of the victims and abusers rather than the perspective of the police.

As well as being an avid reader, I started writing poetry at a young age, which I later turned into song lyrics after moving to Manchester in the 80s and getting involved in the underground music scene. I’d performed in amateur dramatics as a child, and became a professional singer at 18, touring the social clubs around the UK, earning my Equity card along the way which enabled me to do TV work. In Manchester I fronted an original rock band, and also sang session for various jazz and reggae musicians. My passion has always been soul music, so it was inevitable that I would eventually front a soul covers band. I still sing and record original songs with my musician partner between books, but I haven’t performed live for many years – apart from the occasional karaoke party with my daughter. Oh, and if the mood takes me, I’ve been known to burst into song at the end of a book signing event.

I wrote my first book when I was taken ill and had to quit singing for a while. I based it in the Hulme Crescents, where I had spent 10 of some of the best and absolute worst years of my life. It was a squatters paradise when I moved in, and a notorious no-go zone for the police. Violent crimes were commonplace and drugs were rife. I saw a fair few friends get sucked into the hell of addiction – and lost too many of them because of it. Those were the bad times, but then the musicians and artists started moving in. A friend once described it as being like Glastonbury all year round, and it really was. I wanted to capture the spirit of the place in my writing – the good and the bad; but I quickly discovered that I couldn’t write about real people. I’d start, but then I’d become conscious of what they might think of it and that would inhibit me. So I decided to take a stab at inventing characters instead, using the Crescents as the backdrop for their stories. And, guess what? It worked!

The Front, Forget Me Not and The Game were all set in the Crescents, but I expanded into different areas after that; some areas real, others fictitious. I took Brutal even further afield by setting it in a farmhouse in a remote part of Yorkshire. But I’m back on the mean streets of Manchester with the one I’m working on right now.

So that’s me . . . From professional singer to full-time writer, with various other jobs in between: TV extra, barmaid, waitress, pharmacy assistant, phone-line tarot card reader, to name just a few. My children and grandchildren are my world, and my books come from the other-world that lives and breathes inside my twisted mind.

You can follow me here, if you wish, and you can chat to me directly if you join me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Looking forward to meeting some of you there. Oh, and if you’d like to hear any of my original music you can find it here on Amazon, and also on iTunes, Spotify, etc.

Well, that’s it. It’s been nice chatting to you, and I hope you enjoy my books if you decide to try any of them. Mandasue x

Mandasue’s extensive range of novels are widely available, including as printed or e-books, including these below for starters to your collection.

See also Mandasue’s official website.

Helen Walsh (Novelist) 1976-

Helen Walsh is an English novelist and film director. Her novels include Brass, which won a Betty Trask Award, and Once Upon a Time in England, which won a Somerset Maugham Award.

Walsh was born in Warrington. At the age of 16, she moved to Barcelona, Spain but returned to England in her early twenties.

Her first novel, Brass, was published in 2004 and won a Betty Trask Award. Her second novel, Once Upon a Time In England, was published in 2008 and won a 2009 Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the 2008 Portico Prize. Her third novel, Go to Sleep was published in 2011. All three were published by Canongate Press.

Walsh’s most recent novel, The Lemon Grove, was published in 2014 by Tinder Press. It concerns the illicit relationship between a woman and her stepdaughter’s 17-year-old boyfriend on holiday in Mallorca.

Walsh has also worked in the film industry. Her directorial debut The Violators was released in 2016.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.