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Winifred Watson Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Fell Top (1935)Description / Buy at Amazon
Odd Shoes (1936)Description / Buy at Amazon
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1937)Description / Buy at Amazon
Leave and Bequeath (1943)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

A Living Grammar (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon

Winifred Watson is a literary fiction author from Jesmond in Newcastle in the UK.

She was born to a middle class family as her father was the owner of four shops Newcastle and Gateshead. Catering to the needs of the working class explains the sympathy and interest in class prominent in her works.

The author went to Berwick on Tweed St Ronan boarding school alongside her sisters. Upon graduation, she attended commercial college then got a job working as a typist in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

According to the author, it was a boring job and she had so little to do. As such, she spent most of the time trying to pen manuscripts in the style and genres she loved reading.

“Fell Top,” her debut novel was born partly from a dare from her brother in law. She had been foolhardy enough to tell him that he was reading rubbish. He retorted that maybe she could write something better.

After she was done writing the manuscript for “Fell Top,” she put it away and it was not until many years later that she saw a publisher asking for manuscripts that she dug it out. The work was published by Methuen in 1935.

Watson wrote six novels focusing on women’s issues over the years. They are novels that show women getting second chances, changing and becoming creative, moving on just as she also changed from one genre to the next.

Winifred was very much interested in the resolution and development of themes of class and family tensions in ways that may not be conventional but made it possible for women to flourish or even just survive.

In her works, she anticipated the works of Catherine Cookson the better known author who would follow on her themes.

Apart from Miss Pettigrew, all of the author’s novels had a countryside setting. While it was her most popular novel, “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” was at first rejected by publishers.

Watson had then intended to pen a fun story since she had earlier written two dramas. They came to a compromise with her publisher when she agreed to write something similar to “Upyonder” that she had published in 1938.

The novel would go on to become a blockbuster as it was an immediate success in the United States, Australia and Britain. It was also translated and published in several languages including German and French.

In 1936, Winifred Watson married the manager of a local timber firm named Leslie Pickering.

The couple got Keith their son in 1941 at the height of World War II. The boy survived the Blitz purely by chance since he had been fussy in his upstairs bedroom that Watson had to bring him down.

The house next door was bombed and its fireplace was blown onot his cot. Since he had been taken downstairs he survived the incident. Following the bombing, the family next door was invitd to live with the Watsons.

It was at this time that Watson quit writing as with the neighbors and her mother living with them she just could not concentrate. All her creative energy was thus transferred to her son.

However, she has variously said that she had completed her writing mission though she would later on publish “Leave and Bequeath,” which came out in 1943.
“Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day,” which is her most popular novel, has been republished and reprinted numerous times since it was first published in 1938.

“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” is a novel that Winifred Watson penned in six weeks. It is a frothy, light hearted and touching novel that tells the story of a spinster lady.

The lady is approaching middle age and in recent times has been working for a living as a governess. Due to some mix up at the employment agency, she finds herself interviewing with a dissolute but glamorous cabaret artist who needs a new maid.

The action in the novel takes place over the course of a day and includes a succession of men that visit a woman’s apartment, nightclub scenes, and the discovery of a hoard of cocaine. At the end of the twenty four hours, both women’s lives are forever changed.

Writing the novel, Winifred has said that she had no inkling of what governesses did. She had also never met anyone that did cocaine or even been in a nightclub. As such, much of the story including the characters, plot and dialogue came to her while she was washing dishes.

Winifred Watson’s novel “Odd Shoes” is a compelling novel that opens to Ann Macdonald becoming the companion of a middle aged lady in Newcastle.
The only good thing about her life is that she is married to a man of low means who adores her. Together, the couple manages to set up a business, with Ann taking the lead.

Several years later, they are blessed with two children Elizabeth and Ned. Elizabeth is a headstrong and beautiful young woman while Ned is weak willed but jovial.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth lacks her mother’s fighting spirit even though many people find her very interesting.

The plot gets very intriguing when Ann heads out to check out a burning building and finds herself in the middle of a stampede. It is there that she bumps into a handsome and very mysterious man with whom she has an instant connection.

But when the two meet several days later, he is intrigued even more by Elizabeth. He is attracted by her beauty and youth and this is the type of love that may turn out to be unwise given how possessive it can be.

There is a lot of drama to the plot but much of the story rings true as Watson tells an emotional story full of interesting twists and turns.

The 1939 published novel” Hop Step and Jump” by Winifred Watson is another retelling of the Cinderella folktale.

The lead in the work is a middle class lady that leaves her husband to become a mistress. She does all this so that she can have a better life. Ultimately she gets married to a lower middle class man.

In the meantime, her upper middle class former lover who had led her through her divorcve has employed her former husband as his chauffeur.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Winifred Watson

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