Britain's most widely read author of the late twentieth century, Catherine Cookson published more than 100 books, including The Fifteen Streets, The Black Velvet Gown, and Katie Mulhollond. Set in England's industrial northeast, her novels depict the social, economic, and emotional hardships of that area. In the first essay collection devoted to Cookson, the contributors examine what Cookson's memoirs and historical fiction mean to readers, including how her fans contribute to her position in the cultural imaginary; constructions of gender, class, and English and Irish identity in her work; the importance of place in her novels; Cookson's place in the heritage industry; and television adaptations of Cookson's works. Cookson's work tackled topics that were still taboo in the early post-World War II era, such as domestic abuse, rape, and incest. This collection places Cookson in historical context and shows how skillful she was at pushing generic boundaries.
Contents: Foreword, Kathleen Jones; Introduction, Julie Anne Taddeo and Tabitha Sparks; Part 1 Literary Paradigms and (Il)Legitimacy: Illegitimate histories: rape and illegitimacy in the novels of Catherine Cookson, Diana Wallace; Lineage as destiny in Catherine Cookson's Our Kate: reprising the Victorian orphan tale, Tabitha Sparks; 'Love has as many facets as a bursting star': narrative and tolerance in The Black Velvet Gown, Deborah Denenholz Morse; Catherine Cookson, Pierre Bourdieu, and the division of the literary field, Bridget Fowler. Part 2 Catherine Cookson and Her Readers: Translating and conveying the damaging childhood in Our Kate, Jo Parnell; Catherine Cookson's Mary Ann novels: the working class experience of social and religious change in 20th-century North East England, Mavis Aitchison; Loving the wingless bird: Cookson's wounded heroes and their readerly appeal, Julie Anne Taddeo. Part 3 Cookson in Context: the North East, Social History, and the Culture Industry: Romancing the North East: fantasies of class in the regional novels of Catherine Cookson, 1950-1960, John Fordham; The 15 Streets: representations of Irish identity in Catherine Cookson's early novels, D.A.J. MacPherson; The Catherine Cookson television adaptation cycle: production, reception and heritage, James Leggott; On the Cookson trail: heritage, fiction and personality tourism, Lee Barron; Afterword, Barbara Caine; Index.