City inspiration for latest saga

Words by:
Caroline Bingham
Featured in:
March 2011

Margaret Dickinson’s newest novel ‘Forgive and Forget’ is set against the backdrop of Lincoln’s typhoid epidemic of 1905 and family conflicts triggered by the Railway Riots of 1911.

This will be Margaret Dickinson’s twentieth book and like most of her other novels published since 1991, ‘Forgive and Forget’ is set in Lincolnshire; in fact in Lincoln itself. The first two decades of the last century are the timeframe for the dramatic storyline of Margaret’s latest historical romance which begins during the typhoid epidemic which swept the city in 1905 and develops to include the Railway Riots of August 1911. Her heroine, Polly Longden, experiences the loss of her mother, the strong community support of her neighbours and the love of a young man in a storyline which brings to sharp detail the tragedy and harshness of life during this period, prior to and during the First World War.

Margaret’s heroines are all distinctively strong women and when I asked if this was a reflection her own life and experiences Margaret said: “Well, yes and no. I have not had to endure the experiences that some of my heroine’s suffer but certainly whatever life throws at me, I have been able to cope with.” She continued: “As a writer I had to face a lot of rejection in my early days of writing and there was a period of seven years between 1984 and 1991 when I didn’t have anything published at all but I have always come back to writing because I love the research and creating the ‘saga’ to a satisfactory ending.”

Margaret was born in Gainsborough and moved to the Lincolnshire coast as a child, where she still makes her home with husband, Dennis. Her love of the county’s sea, landscape and people is evident in her prose. “I must emphasise,” she said, “that all my characters are fictitious. My novels are not about real people but they are set against real events, real places and real county history.”

I was pleased to hear Margaret uses her archived copies of Lincolnshire Life as one of her research resources and in particular, for ‘Forgive and Forget’, she has also spent many hours in Lincoln Library and the Archives and reading old copies of the Lincolnshire Chronicle, which reported the devastating effects of the typhoid epidemic on the city.

We have included dates on a side panel to show Margaret’s forthcoming book signings in the county. For those who wish to hear more about how Margaret researches her storylines, she will be one of the speakers at a History Day, part of the Lincoln Book Festival, 11th to 15th May 2011. History Day is being held at Bishop Grosseteste College on Friday, 13th May and the other writers taking part include Sue Allan, David Wiseman, Nick Barratt and Peter Parker.

“I was very fortunate to meet my agent, Darley Anderson, in 1991,” Margaret explained, “who advised me that my books must ‘breathe’ place, feature strong women and have a satisfactory ending and I have never forgotten the advice.

“Lincolnshire was the place I knew best so it seemed natural to take my home county as the ‘landscape’ for my stories and I still, after all these years, find it inspires my writing.”

‘Forgive and Forget’ will be published on 4th March.

Further information can be found at

Further information about the Lincoln Book Festival is at

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