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Exploring the legacy of Catherine Cookson

Press release   •   Jul 08, 2013 00:00 BST

An opportunity to discuss the legacy of South Shields-born writer Catherine Cookson is on offer when academics from Northumbria University will lead a discussion at South Shields Library.

Dr Lee Barron and Dr James Leggott, who both teach and research popular culture, will lead the discussion on Tuesday 9 July, which starts at 2pm. The event follows a screening of Cookson’s The Fifteen Streets the previous day at the Customs House.

The talk is part of an ongoing research project to examine what Cookson’s economic and cultural legacy should be in the 21st century. Catherine Cookson published more than 100 novels and was Britain’s most widely-read author of the late 20th century.

The talk is an opportunity for members of the public to voice ideas on how Cookson should fit into the town’s culture while the research is looking at the significance of local history with regard to the Library and the wider issue of cultural regeneration.

Dr Barron said: “Our research suggests that there is a real split between people who don’t really see Cookson’s work as being relevant to 21st century reading audiences, and many others who strongly feel that, even though the Catherine Cookson Trail is no longer viable, her legacy needs to be preserved and recognised as constituting an important part of South Shields’ cultural heritage and situated alongside current cultural developments.”

He added: “South Shields has undergone substantial industrial change in the last 20 years and is currently seeing a number of architectural transformations, so Cookson’s image of what the area once was is an important archive.”

A reading group attached to the South Shields Library is reading Cookson’s novel, Colour Blind and will inform the research in terms of seeing what modern readers think of her style.

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