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Joanna was born in a Leicester of working class parents who were keenly intelligent and supportive and loving throughout her childhood. Unfortunately, she was born with a dislocation of the hip joint, which meant she spent a great deal of early childhood in and out of hospitals. However, they did have a hospital school and she learned to read early, so that she was devouring Dickens, Dumas, and Sabatini at seven and attempting to scribble stories (novels even) at about 11 years old.
Despite loss of schooling, she gained a scholarship at 11 and went to a small but excellent grammar school, and then on to teacher training college in Tooting, London, at 18. Life was sad then as she had just lost her father, who died of lung cancer at only 47. She had adored him, so this was a terrible loss.
She taught for 47 years in comprehensive schools in Leicester, mainly history, English literature, and drama. She was keenly interested in acting and belonged to several drama groups, playing character parts, and sang in amateur operettas. She also belonged to a Leicester writers' club, which stimulated her and provided her with many wonderful friends. Any aspiring writers should think hard about joining such an invaluable and supportive writers' club.
Producing plays at school provided her with loads of fun and comic incidents. She still has pupils calling on her, writing, and phoning now. Only this Christmas a man she hadn’t seen for over 20 years, when he was 16, called with a lovely bouquet.
She lived with her elderly mother until she died in 1998. She was her finest critic and typed most of her early manuscripts. Her one faithful but dreadfully naughty live-in companion is her six-year-old rescued terrier, Jeft.
Her first novel, Divine Son of Ra, was published by Hutchinson in 1969 and since then she has published about 50 novels, mostly historical romances, but one or two modern ones and five supernatural gothic novels under the pen names Joanna Makepeace, Margaret Abbey, Elizabeth York, and Anne Ratcliffe.
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