Maggie B Dickinson started writing at the age of six years, nine months, during the second World War, the catalyst being that there were no toilet rolls available. Her household chore was to cut the newspaper into squares and feed a string through the corners so that they could be hung from a nail behind the door of the outside loo. Since the reading of newspapers was forbidden to young children in those days her only chance to browse them was on trips to the toilet. Unfortunately the squared sheets meant that articles were disjointed, hence she had to imagine appropriate beginnings and ends, which soon led to creating her own tales.

Her first story was Jesus & Iris which she penciled into an old diary during her time in Miss Hartley’s third year infant class at Barrowford Council School (now Barrowford County Primary) in East Lancs. She had fallen in love with the name of Iris who was, in reality, a cloth-looker at V E Haighton’s Mill in Barrowford.  Attendance at Higherford Methodist Sunday School, or any other Sunday School she took a fancy to, had introduced her to Jesus who was so busy working miracles she felt it appropriate for him to marry so that he’d have a companion on his travels. Unfortunately the diary fell down a friend’s tippler toilet before the story grew to book length, which she felt was a sign from above to leave the tale untold.

But from that day, and through Miss Hartley’s insistence, she became the school’s official story teller so that if any of the teachers had a consultation with the headmistress, Mrs Hully, Maggie was sent to that class to keep them amused as she was able to conjure up a story on any subject in an instant. Sadly that ability has waned with age.

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