Margaret Forster - Author

About the Author

Born in Carlisle, Margaret Forster is the author of many successful and acclaimed novels, including Have the Men Had Enough?, Lady's Maid, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, Is There Anything You Want?, Keeping the World Away, and Over, bestselling memoirs (Hidden Lives and Precious Lives) and biographies. She died in February 2016.

Featured books by Margaret Forster

My Life in Houses

My Life in Houses

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/02/2016

'I was born on 25th May, 1938, in the front bedroom of a house in Orton Road, a house on the outer edges of Raffles, a council estate. I was a lucky girl.' So begins Margaret Forster's journey through the houses she's lived in, from that sparkling new council house, to her beloved London home of today. This is not a book about bricks and mortar though. This is a book about what houses are to us, the effect they have on the way we live our lives and the changing nature of our homes: from blacking grates and outside privies; to cities dominated by bedsits and lodgings; to the houses of today converted back into single dwellings. Finally, it is a gently insistent, personal inquiry into the meaning of home.

My Life in Houses

My Life in Houses

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/11/2014

'I was born on May 25, 1938, in the front bedroom of a house in Orton Road, on the outer edges of Raffles, a council estate. I was a lucky girl.' So begins Margaret Forster's journey through the houses she's lived in, from that sparkling new council house, built as part of a utopian vision by Carlisle City Council, to her beloved London house of today, via Oxford, Hampstead, the Lake District and a spell in the Mediterranean. This is not a book about bricks and mortar, or about how a house becomes a home with the right scatter of cushions. This is a book about what houses are to us, the effect they have on the way we live our lives. It is also a wonderful backwards glace at the changing nature of our accommodation: from blacking grates and outside privies; to cities dominated by bedsits and lodgings; to houses today being converted back into single dwellings, all open-plan spaces and bringing the outside in. Finally, it is a gently insistent, personal inquiry into the meaning of home.

The Unknown Bridesmaid

The Unknown Bridesmaid

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/02/2014

When Julia was eight, she was asked to be a bridesmaid at her beautiful cousin Iris's wedding. Her mother saw this as a chore - expensive, inconvenient - but Julia was thrilled. When the time came, even the fact that her bridesmaid's dress didn't fit, and was plain cream rather than the pink she'd hoped for, couldn't ruin the day. But after this, things began to go wrong for Julia, starting with an episode involving her cousin's baby, a pram and a secret trip round the block.   A lifetime later, Julia is a child psychologist who every day deals with young girls said to be behaving badly. Some are stealing, some are running away from home, some are terribly untidy, some won't eat or get out of bed. Julia has a special knack with these girls. She understands which really are troubled, and which are at the mercy of the way they are seen by the adults around them.   But one day, Julia's own troubled past starts to creep into her present. And as she struggles to understand her childhood self, she must confront the possibility that the truth may not be as devastating as she feared.

Other books by Margaret Forster

Diary of an Ordinary Schoolgirl

Diary of an Ordinary Schoolgirl

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/12/2017

23 February Results rolling in! Algebra, 6th = 74%. Not bad. Latin = 55% Thrilled! History top = 85% smashing! Geography, disgusting, 2nd = 67%. In 1954 in Carlisle lived an ordinary 15-year-old schoolgirl called Margaret. She would go on to become an acclaimed writer, the author of the novels Georgy Girl and Diary of an Ordinary Woman as well as biographies and memoirs. But this is her diary from that year; her life. Hers might be a lost world, but her daily observations bring it back in vivid, irresistible detail. 7 May Wonderful feat accomplished yesterday by Roger Bannister! At last, the 4 minute mile. Glad an Englishman got it before anyone else. 24 July Bought a pair of shorts - white, very short with two pockets. Super but rather daring! 2 September Mum's coming back on Saturday. Miss her every minute! I'll never marry and have a family -- housekeeping for two for a week is bad enough -- but for life!

How to Measure a Cow

How to Measure a Cow

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/02/2017

`Compelling...taut and suspenseful' Guardian Tara Fraser has a secret. Desperate to escape herself and her past, she changes her name, packs up her London home and moves to a town in the North of England where she knows no one. But one of her new neighbours, Nancy, is intrigued by her. And as hard as Tara tries to distance herself, she starts to drop her guard. Then a letter arrives. An old friend wants to meet up. Struggling to keep her old life at bay, Tara soon discovers the dangers of fighting the past.

My Life in Houses

My Life in Houses

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/11/2014

'I was born on May 25, 1938, in the front bedroom of a house in Orton Road, on the outer edges of Raffles, a council estate. I was a lucky girl.' So begins Margaret Forster's journey through the houses she's lived in, from that sparkling new council house, built as part of a utopian vision by Carlisle City Council, to her beloved London house of today, via Oxford, Hampstead, the Lake District and a spell in the Mediterranean. This is not a book about bricks and mortar, or about how a house becomes a home with the right scatter of cushions. This is a book about what houses are to us, the effect they have on the way we live our lives. It is also a wonderful backwards glace at the changing nature of our accommodation: from blacking grates and outside privies; to cities dominated by bedsits and lodgings; to houses today being converted back into single dwellings, all open-plan spaces and bringing the outside in. Finally, it is a gently insistent, personal inquiry into the meaning of home.

The Unknown Bridesmaid

The Unknown Bridesmaid

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/02/2014

When Julia was eight, she was asked to be a bridesmaid at her beautiful cousin Iris's wedding. Her mother saw this as a chore - expensive, inconvenient - but Julia was thrilled. When the time came, even the fact that her bridesmaid's dress didn't fit, and was plain cream rather than the pink she'd hoped for, couldn't ruin the day. But after this, things began to go wrong for Julia, starting with an episode involving her cousin's baby, a pram and a secret trip round the block.   A lifetime later, Julia is a child psychologist who every day deals with young girls said to be behaving badly. Some are stealing, some are running away from home, some are terribly untidy, some won't eat or get out of bed. Julia has a special knack with these girls. She understands which really are troubled, and which are at the mercy of the way they are seen by the adults around them.   But one day, Julia's own troubled past starts to creep into her present. And as she struggles to understand her childhood self, she must confront the possibility that the truth may not be as devastating as she feared.

Shadow Baby

Shadow Baby

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/01/2012

Born in Carlisle in 1887, brought up in a children's home and by reluctant relatives, Evie, with her wild hair and unassuming ways, seems a quiet, undemanding child. Shona, born almost seventy years later, is headstrong and striking. She grows up in comfort and security in Scotland, the only child of doting parents. But there are, as she discovers, unanswered questions about her past. The two girls have only one thing in common: both were abandoned as babies by their mothers. Different times, different circumstances, but these two girls grow up sharing the same obsession. Each sets out to stalk and then haunt her natural mother. Both mothers dread disclosure; both daughters seek emotional compensation and, ultimately, revenge.

The Memory Box

The Memory Box

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/10/2011

Catherine's mother died when Catherine was just a baby girl, leaving nothing but her perfect reputation to live up to. Or so she thought. But then Catherine finds a box addressed to her, filled with objects seemingly without meaning - three feathers, an exotic seashell, a painting, a mirror, two prints, an address book, a map, a hat, a rucksack and a necklace. And while she's busy playing detective trying to find out who her mother was, she finds out more about herself than she ever really wanted to know. Secrets are discovered, truths uncovered, and Catherine realises that maybe there was something more to her mother, something that her familiy has kept from her. How long a shadow can a dead woman cast?

Isa and May

Isa and May

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2011

Isamay's unusual name comes from her two very different grandmothers, Isa and May, who were both present at her birth and who have both formed and influenced her whole life in very particular ways. Now almost thirty, Isamay is trying to write a thesis about grandmothers in history but is instead constantly ambushed by the startling secrets her own family has been keeping. When disturbing truths are revealed that force Isamay to examine her own certainties, will her grandmothers be able to build a bridge across the generations?

Over

Over

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2007

Don and Louise's eighteen-year-old daughter Miranda has died in a sailing accident. While Louise takes steps to move on with her life, Don cannot come to terms with the chain of events that led to her death. Instead, he is determined to bring someone to account. The surviving children handle the loss of their sister better than their parents, but what they can't handle is their family being torn apart... Taut, heartbreaking and immensely moving, Over is a novel about love and loss, grief and hope, pain and resolution, and about what happens to human beings when tragedy strikes like lightening.

Keeping the World Away

Keeping the World Away

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/03/2007

Lost, found, stolen, strayed, sold, fought over... This engrossing, beautifully crafted novel follows the fictional adventures, over a hundred years, of an early 20th-century painting and the women whose lives it touches. It opens with bold, passionate Gwen, struggling to be an artist, leaving for Paris where she becomes Rodin's lover and paints a small, intimate picture of a quiet corner of her attic room. Then there's Charlotte, a dreamy intellectual Edwardian girl, and Stella, Lucasta, Ailsa and finally young Gillian, who share an unspoken desire to have for themselves a tranquil golden place like that in the painting. Quintessential Forster, this is a novel about women's lives, about what it means and what it costs to be both a woman and an artist, and an unusual, compelling look at a beautiful painting and its imagined afterlife.

Lady's Maid

Lady's Maid

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2005

London 1844, and a shy young woman has arrived to take up a new position in the grandeur of No. 50, Wimpole Street. Subtly and compellingly, Lady's Maid gives voice to Elizabeth Wilson's untold story, her complex relationship with her mistress, Elizabeth Barrett, and her dramatic role in the most famous elopement in history.

Mothers' Boys

Mothers' Boys

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2005

The attack on fifteen-year-old Joe Kennedy was particularly squalid and vicious. Sheila Armstrong's grandson Leo, usually a quiet, well-behaved boy, was found holding a knife. Harriet Kennedy cannot cope with her son's continuing pain; Sheila, who reared Leo, cannot bear the lasting guilt. In a powerful and moving tale of suffering and forgiveness, the two women confront the complex range of emotions that motherhood entails.

Georgy Girl

Georgy Girl

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2005

Georgy is young, gregarious and fun - she is also large, self-confessedly ugly and desperate for love. Georgy bears her fate bravely as she alternates between playing the fool and humbling herself before Meredith, her pretty, callous flatmate, although when James, middle-aged socialite and self-imposed 'Uncle', asks Georgy to become his mistress, she is tempted to accept. Then Meredith announces that she is pregnant and Jos, the expectant father, decides he is in love with Georgy...

Significant Sisters The Grassroots of Active Feminism, 1839-1939

Significant Sisters The Grassroots of Active Feminism, 1839-1939

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2004

Eight women who changed the world Caroline Norton * Elizabeth Blackwell * Florence Nightingale * Emily Davies * Josephine Butler * Elizabeth Cady Stanton * Margaret Sanger * Emma Goldman Significant Sisters traces the lives of eight women, each of whom pioneered vital changes in the spheres of law, education, the professions, morals or politics: the first woman doctor, the pioneer of birth control, a radical journalist, and suffragists. Each forged her own particular brand of feminism, yet all fought bravely to make real, lasting difference to women's lives, and make us redefine our own notions of feminism today.

Private Papers

Private Papers

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2004

To Penelope Butler the family was all, the sole ambition of her adult life. Three of her four daughters, however, had different ideas. Rosemary rejected it; Jess was destroyed by it; Celia found it eluded her. Only Emily pursued her mother's ideal, with disastrous results. Penelope begins to record their family story as it unfolds. But when Rosemary discovers these private papers she is enraged by her mother's distortions of the truth and proceeds to tell the story from her perspective. From D-Day on into the turbulent post-war years, a picture emerges not only of a single family in all its complexities, but also of the changing world that shaped their lives.

The Battle For Christabel

The Battle For Christabel

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2004

Rowena wants a baby. What she doesn't want is the baby's father. Yet five years after the birth of Christabel, Rowena is dead, tragically killed in a climbing accident. The battle for Christabel has begun... With signature skill, Margaret Forster reveals the conflicting personal interests that lie behind each character's claim on the child. Drawn from the perspectives of social workers, grandparents, lovers and foster-mothers, this novel is a remarkable and heartfelt exploration of the complexities of motherhood.

Seduction Of Mrs Pendlebury

Seduction Of Mrs Pendlebury

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2004

Rose Pendlebury has little in common with her Islington neighbours. Her street has been invaded by young, confident, upwardly-mobile people without, it seems, a care in the world. She keeps herself to herself, and only her husband Stan is aware of her bubbling anger, her terrible prickliness and her ability to take offence. But when Alice and Tony move in next door with their enchanting toddler Amy, Mrs Pendlebury begins to come out of her shell, as gradually her new neighbours undermine her traditional, cautious privacy. Mrs Pendlebury may not be ripe for transformation, or even happiness, but she is not too old to change.

Mother Can You Hear Me?

Mother Can You Hear Me?

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2004

Angela Bradbury's 'Poor Mother' : delicate, humble, permanently disappointed, has made endless sacrifices for her family, for which they can never quite be grateful enough. 'You can't please your mother', as her father says. Even now, just one phone call from Mother can send Angela spiralling into guilt, self-recrimination and doubts over her own abilities as a mother. Worryingly, Angela's relationship with her own daughter Sadie seems to be going the same way, as Sadie develops into a sullen, unresponsive adolescent. It seems that motherhood is a heritage of disappointments and broken promises. But Angela is determined that, somehow, her relationship with Sadie will be different.

Diary Of An Ordinary Woman

Diary Of An Ordinary Woman

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2004

Margaret Forster presents the 'edited' diary of a woman, born in 1901, whose life spans the twentieth century. On the eve of the Great War, Millicent King begins to keep her journal and vividly records the dramas of everyday life in a family touched by war, tragedy, and money troubles. From bohemian London to Rome in the 1920s her story moves on to social work and the build-up to another war, in which she drives ambulances through the bombed streets of London. Here is twentieth-century woman in close-up coping with the tragedies and upheavals of women's lives from WWI to Greenham Common and beyond. A triumph of resolution and evocation, this is a beautifully observed story of an ordinary woman's life - a narrative where every word rings true.

Have The Men Had Enough?

Have The Men Had Enough?

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2004

What do men run away from? Not war, not physical hardship, but the day-to-day emotional demands of impossible domestic situations. That's women's work. This is a story of female courage, where black comedy turns to disturbing pathos revolving around the rights of an indomitable woman

Good Wives

Good Wives

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/10/2002

What is a 'good wife'? The bestselling author of Hidden Lives explores four marriages, including her own, in different times and societies to find the answer. In 1848 Mary Moffatt became the wife of the missionary and explorer David Livingstone - and her obedience and devotion eventually killed her. In 1960, Margaret Forster married her school sweetheart Hunter Davies in a London Registry Office - and interpreted the role very differently. Between these two marriages is a huge gulf in which the notion of marriage changed immeasurably. Forster traces the shift in emphasis from submission to partnership, first through the marriage of one unconventional American, Fanny Osbourne, to Robert Louis Stevenson, in the late nineteenth century; and then through that of Jennie Lee to Aneurin Bevan in the 1930s. Why does a woman still want to be a wife in the twenty-first century? What is the value of marriage today? Why do couples still marry in church? These are some of the questions Forster asks as she weaves the personal experience of forty years through the stories of three wives who have long fascinated her.

Precious Lives

Precious Lives

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/1999

A brilliant follow-up to Hidden Lives, Margaret Forster's most personal book yet takes up the story of her gritty, northern father, Arthur, intertwined with that of her sister-in-law, Marion, who died of cancer at almost half the age of the 96 year-old Arthur. Margaret Forster's father was not a man to answer questions - least of all questions about life and death, so she attempts to answer them for herself. As Forster looks back at Arthur's life and indomitable character, she evokes incidents from her childhood, his working life and stubborn old age, trying to make sense of their largely unspoken relationship, and of his tenacious hold on life, and on his family. Arthur and Marion's lives were ordinary, and apparently unremarkable, but, when faced with death, lives like these become strangely precious.

Hidden Lives A Family Memoir

Hidden Lives A Family Memoir

Author: Margaret Forster Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/07/1996

Margaret Forster's grandmother died in 1936, taking many secrets to her grave. Where had she spent the first 23 years of her life? Who was the woman in black who paid her a mysterious visit shortly before her death? How had she borne living so close to an illegitimate daughter without acknowledging her? The search for answers took Margaret on a journey into her family's past, examining not only her grandmother's life, but also her mother's and her own. The result is both a moving, evocative memoir and a fascinating commentary on how women's lives have changed over the past century.

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