Even in the worst days of the recession, the McQueen family remain upbeat. They watch as their neighbours depart for the workhouse, their last pieces of furniture carted off by the bailiffs. But even though there might not be much on the table, the McQueen house constantly echoes with laughter. This is what keeps them strong when all else fails, you can always laugh. ike many of the residents of the Fifteen Streets, the McQueens are as blunt as they are big-hearted. They are opinionated, and speak with no holds barred if anyone dare go against social convention. So imagine their shock when Bridget McQueen brings home her African husband olour Blind is an absorbing story of prejudice, racial tension and family feuding in the 1920s, from one of Britain s most skilled storytellers.
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.