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Biography celebrates life of Berwick author Anne Hepple

THIS week sees the 50th anniversary of the death of local author Anne Hepple, whose books sold and were enjoyed all around the world.

She also edited 'The Woman's Magazine' in the 1930s and wrote history and nature articles for the Berwick Advertiser.

Mary Rawnsley, of Coldingham, who is a member of Berwick Writers Workshop, has been a fan of Anne Hepple's work for many years - so much so she has written her biography.

"I was introduced to north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders by the stories of Anne Hepple, who loved the place and its people," she said. "The country springs to life under her pen."

Anne Hepple was born Anne Hepple Batty in 1877, in Widdrington, and lived most of her life in and around Berwick and Berwickshire. Her parents were married at Scremerston Parish Church as her mother had grown up at Heatherytops Farm, Scremerston. Her father was a road contractor who later became a Sheriff of Berwick.

Unfortunately, the early death of Anne's mother set the family onto a path that held twists and turns and more tragic events. These were later to help provide material for Anne's stories.

With the anniversary of Anne's death looming, Mary decided that something should be done to mark the occasion in Berwick and the Borders, and to raise awareness of the author's work.

With research help from Wendy B Scott, Mary has now written a biography of her favourite author, and named it 'Anne of the Borders: The Story of Anne Hepple, Author, 1877-1959'.

After marrying William Bain Dickinson at Berwick Parish Church in 1903, Anne brought up her son and daughter in and around Berwick.

William ran his family's boot-making business in Marygate, and later became a town councillor. He was also the secretary of the Berwick Choral Union.

It was after her children grew up and all her older relations had died, that Anne began to publish her novels, which often drew on incidents from her own experience.

Mary said: "Once we started researching, we found so much unexpected material that, unfortunately, we've not quite been able to have the book ready for the actual anniversary. However, it's nearly ready, and we still hope to have it on sale before Christmas."

Apparently, when he was a baby, local historian Francis Cowe was held in Anne's arms, when his family lived in the flat below the Dickinsons, in Castle Terrace.

They also lived in various places in Berwickshire, including Allanton, Chirnside and near Paxton, but Anne and William eventually returned to Berwick, to a house by the Spa Well, in Spittal.

Fifty years ago this week on November 10, 1959, Anne Hepple died at her daughter's house in Kendal, at the age of 82, prompting Mary to ask if it would be fitting if the anniversary were to spark some greater awareness and perhaps some lasting commemoration of the writing of Anne Hepple.

For enquiries about 'Anne of the Borders: The Story of Anne Hepple, Author, 1877-1959', call (01289) 302929 or email: berwick_writers_workshop@ yahoo.co.uk.

 
 
 

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