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Catherine has written over ninety novels and, under the pseudonym of Catherine Marchant, she wrote three different series of books, which included the Bill Bailey, the Mary Ann, and the Mallen series. Her first book, "Kate Hannigan" , tells the partly autobiographical story of a working-class girl becoming pregnant by an upper-middle class man.

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The baby is raised by Kate's parents and the child believes them to be her real parents and that Kate is her sister. Many of her novels are set in 19th century England and tell of poverty in such settings as mines, shipyards and farms.

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Her characters usually cross the class barrier by means of education. She received an honorary degree from the University of Newcastle and was made Dame in Just shortly before her ninety-second birthday, on June 11, , Catherine died in her home near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

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Fifteen-year-old Rory McAlister, and apprentice wheelwright, finds himself caught up in the dangerous world of smuggling in the mid-nineteenth century Fifteen-year-old Rory McAlister, and apprentice wheelwright, finds himself caught up in the dangerous world of smuggling in the mid-nineteenth century. He believed he could travel the many miles to the city in no time at all. He thanked the old woman and went on his way. He skipped along and he trotted along, and as the sun climbed high at noonday, Rory came upon an old, old man sitting on a rock.

And too tired I am to move from here to there.

This cap has wondrous powers. The old man sat up, a look of great surprise on his face.

Rory's Fortune by Catherine Cookson

He laughed and clapped his hands. Rory saw a handsome shillelagh stick cut from an oak or a blackthorn sapling leaning against the rock. The piece of wood had been polished to such a luster that it shone like gold in the sunlight. And a lad should carry a strong club to ward off beasties and things that lurk in the forest at night. Rory sat beside the old man on the rock and shared his bread and cheese with him. As they ate, the man told Rory how he had made the shillelagh. Once I slew a bear with this same shillelagh. The sun and the long journey made Rory drowsy.

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He fell into a deep sleep. Hours later he woke to find the shillelagh beside him, but the old man was not to be seen. Rory picked up the shillelagh and started up the road. The shillelagh was heavy.


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As he went, it got heavier and heavier. He thought of the long walk to the city. The heavy club would slow his pace.

Rory's Fortune

But he must not throw away such a fine oaken shillelagh. He must try to find the old man and give it back to him. Finally Rory decided to return home with the shillelagh and go another day to seek his fortune. Up hill and down glen he struggled. He carried the club in his arms. He put it across his shoulders. He dragged it behind him.

Rory’s Fortune

When he came to a hilltop, he rolled it to the bottom. At last Rory climbed to the top of the hill where he could see the thatched roof of his own cottage. He gave the shillelagh a strong push down the hill.