Catherine Cookson has sold over 130 million copies of her books in 26 languages throughout the world and counting. Cookson was born Katherine Ann McMullen in 1906 in the bleak industrial heartland of Tyne Dock, South Shields and later moved to East Jarrow which is now in Tyne and Wear. The poverty, exploitation and bigotry she experienced in her early years aroused deep emotions that stayed with her throughout her life and which became part of her stories. Her first novel, Kate Hannigan was published in 1950; she went on to write over 100 books. She became one of the most successful novelists of all time and was one of the first authors to have three of four titles in the Bestseller Lists at the same time. She remained the most borrowed author from public libraries in the UK for 17 years, losing the title only in 2002, four years after her death. Many of her novels have been transferred to stage, film and radio with her television adaptations on ITV lasting over a decade and achieving ratings of over 10 million viewers. This remarkable woman passed away in June 1998 at the age of 91.