THE life story of one of the region’s most famous living artists has been recorded for posterity in a book published to coincide with his 90th birthday.

Norman Cornish’s biography – The Quintessential Cornish – was launched at the Spennymoor Settlement, in County Durham, last night ahead of his birthday on November 18.

Authors Gillian Wales, former manager of Bishop Auckland Town Hall, and retired GP Robert McManners, who run publishers Gemini Productions, met him while working on earlier books about mining art.

Mr Cornish was born in Spennymoor, where he still lives, and began drawing as a child.

He worked at the pits for 33 years and pursued his passion for art at weekends and at the Settlement’s sketching club, which he joined when he was 15 and remained a member for 30 years.

After a career at the coal face, he became a professional artist and became an MBE last year.

Dr McManners said: “We had been aware of Norman Cornish for some time, because of the quality and fame of his work and got to know him in the Nineties.

“We felt it was an important piece of work to do, to make sure that there is a good record of his life and art, from primary sources through the interviews we have had with Norman and his family.

“He describes himself as a painter of people, rather than a pitman painter.”

The authors will give a lecture and second book launch at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on Monday, November 23, at 7.30pm.

Limited tickets are available, priced £2, from 01388-602610.

The Spennymoor Settlement, in O’Hanlon Street, will hold an exhibition of Mr Cornish’s work this weekend.

The book, priced £14.95, is available in bookshops, Bishop Auckland Town Hall and from Gemini Productions, West House, 5 Etherley Lane, Bishop Auckland, DL14 7QR, include £2.50 postage and packaging for mail orders.