English popular novelist. She was a prolific author of best-selling fiction. Her books, characterized by romance, were often period pieces, drawing in part from her own life experiences as a young woman growing up in the Tyneside region of northeast England. They include the Mallen trilogy (1973–74) and the Tilly Trotter series (1980–82).
She suffered recurring breakdowns in her health, the result of a rare blood disease, and, after suffering three miscarriages, her mental health collapsed completely and for some time she became a virtual recluse. It was then that she turned her hand to writing, publishing her first novel Kate Hannigan in 1950. Her 80 novels have been translated into 17 languages, and have sold around 100 million copies worldwide.
As a teenager, having left school at the age of 13, Cookson worked as a cushion maker and in a laundry, before moving to Hastings on England's south coast in 1929, where she took a post as head laundress at a workhouse. In 1940 she married a local schoolmaster, Tom Cookson.
Her financial success enabled her to make considerable donations to hospitals and charities, including £1 million for research into haematology. She established the Catherine Cookson Foundation at Newcastle University, England, and donated a grant of £100,000 to fund science studies at St Hilda's College, Oxford. By 2001 her novels had been the most frequently borrowed from British public libraries for the 18th year running. Her later novels include The House of Women (1992), A Ruthless Need (1995), The Branded Man (1996), and The Bonny Dawn (1996).
Cookson, Catherine (Ann)
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