About Me

Kathleen Jones was born and brought up on a hill farm in Cumbria and now lives on the edge of the Lake District. She has been writing since she was a child and has published seventeen books including nine biographies, two novels and four collections of poetry. She lived for several years in Africa and the Middle East, where she worked for the Qatar Broadcasting Corporation. Since then she has written extensively for BBC radio and contributed to several television documentaries. Her poetry appears regularly in poetry magazines and anthologies in the UK, North America and New Zealand.

Kathleen was appointed as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow in 2007 and is currently also a Fellow of the English Society. Her two most recent biographies are ‘Katherine Mansfield: The Storyteller’ (published by Penguin NZ and Edinburgh University Press) and ‘Norman Nicholson: The Whispering Poet’, (published in 2013 by The Book Mill).

‘Mapping Emily’ won the Iota Shots pamphlet award in 2017 and is published by Templar Poetry. A collection of poetry that began on the remote Pacific islands of Haida Gwaii, ‘The Rainmaker’s Wife’,  was published by Indigo Dreams in September 2017. 


  1. What happened to to The Winter Road - sequel to The Sun's Companion mentioned at the end of it?

    1. Hi Shan Morgain. Sadly I had to abandon it to go out and earn some money. I'm hoping to get back to it soon. I love Tamar and Anna and want to finish their story. Thanks for asking!

  2. Hello Kathleen -- I am Peter (67) and live in New Zealand, unfortunately. I am almost finished reading your biography A Passionate Sisterhood. It is one of the finest biographies I have ever read. Little Dora. God help us! The trials and tribulations she went through, and all because of the selfish William Wordsworth and all who slaved for him. Dora should have remained in Portugal, for her health would have improved markedly and consistently, I feel. I am loath to finish your book, easing myself towards the last page, lapping it up like a boisterous kitten. Kathleen, your writing is exemplary. It has a singular voice: it brushing the extraneous aside, cutting to the chase, and exposing lives that would otherwise have remained a blur in the mists of the literary world. Bless you, Kathleen, and may 2021 prove even more fruitful for your pen.

    1. Dear Peter - thank you so much for your lovely comments! I am blushing! I tried very hard to give a realistic picture of their world, using their letters and reminiscences. Growing up in the Lake District I grew up with the 'Wordsworth myth'. I envy you in New Zealand at the moment. You have a sensible leader who has steered you through the Covid crisis, while over here everything is in chaos. I should have been in NZ in September, postponed it to January, and now it's going to be next September (fingers crossed!). I hope that you and your family are safe and well. best wishes, Kathleen.

  3. Hi Kathleen, I hope you don't mind me getting in touch. My mam loved to read books but lost interest after becoming ill in September last year. However, I came across a tattered book in the communal day room where she lives & it was Catherine Cookson's Biography, written by yourself, & I thought 'surely she'd like to read that'. The first page I flicked to mentioned Annie Joyce & my heart skipped a beat. Annie was my great aunt (who I always called grandma) and her sister was Isabel Joyce, my mam's mother. Sadly Isabel died at the age of 30, leaving 3 daughters behind. The 3 girls were initially looked after by Annie before being split up to live with other members of the family, but my mam came back into Annie's care at the age of 15 after running away from where she was living. We have had a great interest in Catherine Cookson's books & films, especially because of the friendship between Annie & Catherine & I know Annie did a video with a Historian (I think) from South Shield's and also appeared on Catherine's 'This is Your Life' with Eamonn Andrews. I would love to be able to obtain copies, but wouldn't know where to start. Funnily enough, I have just finished writing my mam's life history & I said it was like writing a Catherine Cookson book as life was so tough in those days. While looking through some family photos, I found a letter from Annie where she mentions that Annie & my mam's grandmother was called Jenny McMullen before becoming Jenny Joyce. Which then made me think........could Annie & Catherine have been related somewhere along the line as the McMullen name was in Catherine's family too. I would love to hear back from you to see what you think. Many thanks for writing that book, it has brought a lot of joy to my mam as she is really enjoying it & she can relate to so much of the story, especially as she lived in South Shields too.... and so did I.
    Thanks again, Julie Southward.

    1. Hi Julie - thanks so much for getting in touch with me. I found your Mums link to Annie Joyce really interesting. I realised that Catherine and Annie were more connected than she would admit, but hadn't the time to research the connection at the time. Jenny McMullen was one of the big family of McMullen's in the South Shields area. Annie's life, like your Mum's would have been really hard. My grandmother was brought up there - one of 11 children - and her stories made my hair stand up on end. My mother remembered going to school in North Shields and having to take a penny a week in for the 'boot and shoe fund'.
      If your Mum likes the story, I wrote a new version, which includes the story of how I traced Catherine Cookson's father (far more sensational than any of her novels!). It's called Catherine Cookson: Child of the Tyne and the last third of the book is about Catherine's father and how I found him - a scoundrel and a bigamist as Catherine had privately told friends. Alexander Davies was quite a character, leaving a trail of abandoned children behind him. How I admired those tough women!
      All best wishes, Kathleen

    2. Hi Kathleen, thank you so much for coming back to me. Your comments are very interesting & I have spoken with my mam again re Annie Joyce & Catherine.
      My mam can remember that Catherine would visit Annie on her trips up to the North East from Hastings & she would always give Annie a 50 pound note. Annie never shared it & would always plan to buy herself something nice with the money from her dear friend.
      After my mam initially lived with Annie, she was then looked after by Hannah & Tom Fletcher from the age of 7 up to the age of 12 & attended St Peter & Paul's School. Their names you may have come across. Hannah was a Nurse at Harton Hospital & Tom worked in the laundry. Apparently, Hannah is also a character in one of Catherine's books, we don't know which one, as she told Annie that Hannah's name had been changed, but Annie would know who it was when she read the book.
      My mam was a Nurse at Preston Hospital in North Shields's & she wrote to Catherine Cookson when she lived in Hexham. One of the patients on the ward absolutely loved Catherine & had some of her books at her bedside and her wish was to one day meet her favourite author. Catherine kindly visited the patient, along with Tom, giving the patient a signed copy of one of her books & gave 2 to the Nurses to read. Catherine was a very kind, generous lady.
      Mam can also remember in one of Catherine's books (but she can't remember which one) where one of the characters died at Jarrow Slakes, which I think was reference to one of Catherine's relatives, either John McBride or John McMullen, but my mam often thought it was one of her relations too...........because of the surname!
      My mam is loving your book & I am looking forward to reading it when she is finished, but I will also purchase Child of the Tyne too, which I will also look forward to reading.
      Like your mam, I also went to a school in North Shield's, as we'd moved to North Shields from South Shield's in 1961, but I didn't have to pay the penny for the 'boot & shoe fund'. I also lived in Cumbria (Seascale)for 13 years when I got married in 2000 & then moved to Ellesmere in Shropshire in 2014 where I still currently live.
      My daughter loves to write stories & is currently studying Communications at University in the USA. You never know, she may become an author one day. But I hope she will start to read Catherine's books & have as much enjoyment from them as both me & my mam. Thank you once again, Julie


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