A NORTH-EAST author whose romantic novels made her a bestseller, has died aged 84.

Una Horne, who also wrote under the pen name Maggie Hope, was the daughter of a Shotton Colliery miner.

As a child she moved to Bishop Auckland and attended the town's grammar school where her English teacher said she had a flare for writing and could make a living out of it.

However, Mrs Horne instead trained to be a nurse and later joined her husband William's haulage contractors business when she became a mum to her children Sue and Peter.

But when her children were in secondary school, Mrs Horne got her A Levels before completing an Open University degree.

And when there was a redundant typewriter in her husband's office, she took it home.

It was not until she was in her 50s that Mrs Horne began writing again and she was inspired to re-think of the possibility of a career in it after penning an article about her son's jackdaw and submitted it to The Northern Echo.

In an interview with the paper ahead of the publication of her first book, Lorinda Leigh, in 1994, Mrs Horne said: "I wrote an article about a jackdaw that my son had raised and sent it to The Northern Echo. They published it and paid me £20 and I thought: "I'm a writer!"

Following the style of fellow North-East writer, Catherine Cookson, Mrs Horne wrote 15 books in total - the first being published under her own name when she was 60.

Her daughter, Sue Hepworth, said her mother's novels were often based on nurses or the coal mining communities she grew up in which resonated with her readers.

"It all started with a story to The Northern Echo and from there she found an agent," Mrs Hepworth said. "She was proud of her work and it was amazing when she became published because it all seemed a little unbelievable.

"She was always interested in history, particularly regional history."

She added: "I picked up one of my mum's booked in Morrisons once and someone came up to me and said 'I love that writer' and I said it was my mum which was lovely."

Mrs Horne, who was a member of MENSA but lived with dementia in her later life, spent her final years in Saltburn.

Mrs Hepworth said he mum loved puzzles and crosswords and was also a good dressmaker and knitter.

She passed away on February 2 following a short illness and her funeral was held on Thursday.

She leaves behind her husband, two children and one grandchild, Jonathan.