Gainsborough born author Margaret penned her first short story at 14

Margaret Dickinson
Margaret Dickinson

Gainsborough-born author Margaret Dickinson is about to embark on a book tour ready for the release of her latest novel, Daughters of Courage.

The 74-year-old started writing short stories when she was aged just 14, with the hope of seeing her work published.

However, this did not happen until 1968 when she penned her first novel.

Margaret says: “From then, I had another eight books published and they were mainly light historical romances.

“I also wrote an action suspense which was based on the Skegness lifeboat.

“I never write about real people – my characters are always fictional.”

Margaret took a break from writing between 1984 to 1991, because of family commitments.

And when she returned to writing it was her ambition to be published in paperback.

Margaret says: “I started writing again in 1991 and had a fantastic bit of luck when I got Darley Anderson as an agent who is fantastic.

“He wanted me to have a go at writing a regional saga and sent it to Pan Macmillan. It was the first of a trilogy.”

That book was published in September 1994 and Margaret has been writing a book a year ever since.

She says: “It was a struggle in the early years, but it’s worth it if you want something badly enough.”

Margaret wanted to be an author from an early age, but she needed to make sure she had something to fall back, so attended Lincoln College to complete a secretarial course, where she learned to touch type.

She says: “I type my books straight onto the computer now. I used to do a mix of both when I used to have to use a portable typewriter.

“But since the wonderful invention of the computer, it is a lot easier to type it straight out and to go back and edit.

“Before you used to have to type everything out three or four times, so for me it is one of the best inventions ever.”

Margaret says getting published in paperback has been the greatest achievement in her writing life.

She says: “Something else which gave me a big boost was being asked back to Skegness Grammar School as a guest speaker. That was a huge compliment.

“And also getting onto The Sunday Times bestseller list.

“I am trying to get on it every year. The first time was in 2014 and I made it on there again last year.”

Margaret still enjoys writing and a lot of research goes into her books.

She says: “I get wonderful help from people at libraries and museums and also at houses when I go and ask if I can use them for background or inspiration. I can’t praise library staff highly enough.

“It is great if I am writing about a particular place to be able to go back and look at old newspapers from that period, so I can get a real feel for what was going on and what things were like.”

Margaret’s latest release, Daughters of Courage, is a follow-up to last year’s Buffer Girls.

She says: “They are part of a trilogy, but you can read them without having read the others ones. They are all linked, but they can also stand alone.”

Margaret was born in Gainsborough and then lived in Beckingham.

She moved to the Lincolnshire coastal village of Chapel St Leonards in 1949 and has lived in that area ever since.

She is married and has two daughters and two grandchildren.

Even when she is not writing, Margaret is normally busy researching for her books.

She said: “I don’t get as much time to read for pleasure as I would like, as I mainly read for research.

“I also enjoy watercolour painting, but I don’t have much time to do that.

“My writing is a priority and it’s what I love doing.”

n Margaret will be signing copies of Daughters of Courage at WH Smith, Silver Street, Gainsborough, on Tuesday, February 14, from 11am to 1pm.