Catherine Cookson wrote over 2,000 books in her lifetime. All have been published in both hardback and paperback. Nearly all have been released in dramatised form on Video or DVD. Her works have been studied by generations of students throughout the world.
So it came as a surprise when researchers going through her papers came across an unpublished novel. The first such discovery in over 12 years since her death, the manuscript is the subject of intense debate among intellectuals and literary critics.
The new book is entitled "Bessy Bladen", and tells the story of a young women (from the North East) who has fallen upon hard times - but bravely looks after her family. She survives against all the odds and prejudice of a 19th century England beset with famine and economic gloom.
She is aided in her struggle by a handsome young squire, the master of the local mill where she starts work. We don't want to spoil the story, but she eventually marries the young master and becomes respectable, wealthy, and the mother of upstanding offspring.
She turns out to be a brilliant businesswoman too, reviving both the young master's fortunes and the hardworking North East community which depression had plunged into ruin and alcohol dependency.
"Bessy Bladen" is now to be treated with the respect it deserves starting immediately, with serialisation in a popular tabloid newspaper. This will be followed by Book, Film and DVD releases. Plans for a Bessy Bladen Fragrance are also at an early stage, following the loss of Shh by Jade Goody.