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 began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. She has written 105 books including ten books for children and several were made into films. 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. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, on 11th June 1998. The Times Newspaper called her "the most celebrated novelist of our time".