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Helen Forrester (1919–2011)

Author of Twopence to Cross the Mersey

Includes the names: Helen Forrester

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Helen Forrester was the pen name of June Bhatia, née Huband, born in Hoylake, Cheshire (now in Merseyside), England. She was the eldest of seven children in a middle-class family. Her father went bankrupt during the Great Depression and the family was thrown into poverty. They moved to Liverpool, where they lived in a single room. For the next few years, the family relied on handouts from the parish and the kindness of strangers. Helen did not attend school, but was kept home to help look after her six younger siblings. At age 14, she rebelled and her parents allowed her to attend evening school to make up for her missed years of education. She also went to work for a small local charity, which later provided the background for her novels Liverpool Daisy (1979), Three Women of Liverpool (1984) and A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin (2003). In 1950, she married Avadh Bhatia, a doctoral student in physics, and moved with him to India. Her experiences there were the basis for her books Thursday's Child (1959) and The Moneylenders of Shahpur (1987). The couple travelled widely, eventually settling in Edmonton, Canada, in 1955, where her husband became director of the Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Alberta. Her bestselling book was her memoir of her childhood, Twopence to Cross the Mersey (1974), which was adapted into a successful musical. It was followed by three more volumes of autobiography, Liverpool Miss (1979), By the Waters of Liverpool (1981), and Lime Street at Two (1985).
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