Hannah and Humphrey Drayton were regarded by all who knew them as the perfect married couple. However, Hannah soon came to realise that this stuffy, City broker was stifling her with his insistence that she should always comply with his wishes. The only relief she had from his tyranny was his absence on Thursday evenings, when he played bridge with a group of acquaintances, and at weekends, which he spent with an elderly couple who regarded him as the son they had never had. Hannah, in despair and in the face of her husband's ridicule, took refuge in her writing, and it was the completion of a book for children and an advertisement in the local newspaper that took her to the office of a publisher, a visit that was to change her life. There she was to meet David Graventon, an assistant to the publisher, and a man she was soon to think of as her Thursday friend. Taking advantage of Humphrey's absences, she and David would meet and talk, visit the theatre and the cinema - activities she had never enjoyed with her husband. He, of course, knew nothing of Hannah's 'other life', being preoccupied with protecting what he imagined were his future interests. But Humphrey had his own s
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. Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer - her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for the best regional novel of 1968 - her readership quickly spread throughout the world, and her many best-selling novels established her as one of the most popular of contemporary women novelists. 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. For many years she lived near Newcastle upon Tyne. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998.