About Jane

I was born in Lancashire and spent my teenage years in Leigh, a town where coal was mined and cotton spun. I went to the Girls’ Grammar School, where the teachers encouraged me to be ambitious. I was the first in my family to go to university. I studied English, became a teacher and worked in a variety of schools and colleges in various parts of the country.

I married, had two children and a dog


As a teenager I read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. All the events in the story are seen from the point of view of Jane Eyre. She is a scrupulously honest narrator but she is inexperienced. Like most young female readers I fell in love with Mr Rochester.

When I grew up, I realised how unkind Mr Rochester was to his wife, a woman with limited mental capacity but a healthy bank balance. Marriage gave him control of her fortune, and the power to drag her from the sunny country of her birth, and to imprison her in an attic on a bleak moor in Yorkshire. I suspected there was more to the story than Jane knew about.

The housekeeper, Mrs Fairfax provided me with an alternative way of looking at the events and started me on my path as a novelist.

To get into the skin of Mrs Fairfax I made the clothes she wore. These uncomfortable and inconvenient garments brought home to me the ferocious restrictions imposed on women’s lives at the time of the young Queen Victoria. I began studying how the law and society changed in the course of the nineteenth century to bring about some improvements in women’s lives.


The landscape of industrial Lancashire is imprinted in my memory. The smoking chimneys, the heaps of slag and the miners ‘in their black’ on the way home from the pit have all disappeared into history. They live on as the setting to my next two novels where women are emerging from the background. The daughters, wives and mothers are playing more active roles in the home, in business and in society.

To keep in touch with Lancashire I joined the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society. Their members generously share their research into the lives of their forebears. I am very grateful to them for the insight it gives me into the lives of real people.