Dame Catherine Ann Cookson, DBE (née McMullen; 20 June 1906 – 11 June 1998) was a British author. Catherine Cookson was born Catherine Ann Davies into poverty to Alexander Davies and Catherine Fawcett in Jarrow, a town in north-east England on the River Tyne and part of County Durham. Nineteen year old Catherine Fawcett, or Kate as she was known, was unmarried but claimed marital status on her baby’s birth certificate so that the child would not have to suffer the indignity and prejudice of being a ‘bastard’. Catherine Cookson never knew her father and until she was 7 she thought her maternal grandparents were her parents. Cookson is in the top 20 of most widely read British novelists with sales topping 100 million, while retaining a relatively low profile in the world of celebrity writers. Her books were inspired by her deprived youth in South Tyneside, North East England, the setting for her novels. With 103 titles written in her own name or two other pen-names, she is one of the most prolific British novelists.