Josephine Cox, one of Britain’s most prolific authors, has died at the age of 82. Born in Blackburn during World War Two, Cox wrote more than 60 books that sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Her most popular works are the family sagas, including Two Sisters, The Beachcomber and Her Father’s Sins. The news of her demise was announced by her publisher HarperCollins, who said that Cox died “peacefully” on July 17.

Early Life

Cox often spoke about how she grew up in extreme poverty. She had 10 siblings. “We hardly had enough money for food and clothes, let alone books,” she told the Guardian in 2008. Cox once told her publishers how she used to charge her school friends a penny for each story she told them. One of her teachers had also predicted very early on that Cox would go on to become a successful writer.

At the age of 16, she got married and had two sons with her husband Ken. Once her children started school, Cox began studying at college. She earned a place at Cambridge University but was unable to accept as it would have meant living away from home. She instead went into teaching and began writing her first book. It was published in 1987, and there was no looking back from there. The novel was accepted immediately, and it motivated her to go on writing two books per year.

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Cox’s Flair For Writing

Cox, who for some time wrote under the pseudonym Jane Brindle, said that she loved recreating scenes and characters from her past. She mixed them together with new story-lines which mingled naturally with the old. She also admitted that she could never imagine spending a single day without writing.

About her first book Her Father’s Sins, she recounted in an interview, “When I was teaching, I was confined to bed in hospital on time since I was very ill. One of my friends brought me an A4 book and half a dozen pens because I was always talking about ‘that book’ I was going to write about growing up in Blackburn. I wrote the book in six weeks in the hospital. It was a culmination of everything that was in me from the age of eight.” Cox won the ‘Superwoman of Great Britain Award’ the same year her first novel was accepted for publication.

Cox’s most recent book, Two Sisters, was published in February. Unsurprisingly, the novel hit the bestseller charts. Cox has also been one of the most borrowed authors from the UK’s libraries. In 2011, she spearheaded a campaign to prevent library closures, calling it “absolutely appalling” that they were at risk.

Statement from Publisher

Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins described Cox as “one of our most beloved writers”. He said that “publishing is built on authors such as Josephine Cox, writers who know instinctively what their readers want and work diligently, and with the utmost dedication, to deliver it.”

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Kimberley Young, executive Publisher of HarperCollins Fiction, remembered her as “an utter force of nature who inspired all around her.” In her statement she recounted that “Josephine has left a legacy, not only through her stories that touched the hearts of millions but as a woman who led the way for others by forging a path from humble beginnings to the top of the bestseller lists… Josephine truly earned her place as the nation’s favourite and that is how we’ll always remember her.”

Picture Credit: HarperCollins Publishers

Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. 

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