A NORTH-EAST novelist, who wrote in the regional romantic style popularised by Catherine Cookson, has died in hospital, aged 77.

Benita Brown failed to overcome a recent serious illness, having been admitted to intensive care at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Hospital earlier this month.

Born and brought up the daughter of a family doctor in Whitley Bay, she lived most of her life on Tyneside.

She met and married BBC local radio producer Norman Brown, who worked for many years for Radio Newcastle.

Having studied at university in London, she became an English teacher, but wrote short stories and scripts for comic story-lines in girls’ magazines, including Jackie and Mandy, while bringing up her son and three daughters.

But when they grew up and moved from the family home she took up writing full-time in the 1990s, and became the author of 13 popular family sagas, all set in the North-East, for publishers Headline.

Among her most popular novels was her 2006 best-seller Fortune’s Daughter, which was short-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year.

Son Martin said her works were regularly listed among the ‘most borrowed’ by library-users nationally, with many published in large print to cater for the book lending market.

* Family and friends, including figures from the literary world, are expected to gather at St Aidan’s Church, at Brunton Park, Newcastle, for her funeral, on Tuesday April 29, at 10.30am.