Catherine Cookson was born 100 years ago in a run-down area on the south bank of the Tyne.
Forty-four years later her debut novel, Kate Hannigan, established her as a bestselling storyteller of rare talent.
But what readers didn't realise was that Kate Hannigan also represented the first step of the author's triumph over a nervous breakdown and a period of confinement in a mental asylum.
Still in the throes of her illness, she was transforming her fears out of necessity through her art.
Piers Dudgeon was granted exclusive interviews over a 15-year period until Catherine's death in 1998.
Now, in the company of her family and others who declined to be interviewed during her lifetime, he sheds new light on the tortured drama of her personal life and her legacy to the nation.
This revised biography is a revealing tribute to an enduringly popular writer in her centenary year, and will fascinate her many loyal fans.