One of The Gazette’s first female reporters is set to publish her first novel.
Baggy Pants and Bootees, is set in a small Yorkshire newspaper office in the 60s, with flashbacks to the Second World War.
Author Marilyn Chapman – who writes under her maiden name of Brown – was able to draw on some of her own experience and knowledge of the industry when putting the stories together, although all of the characters are purely fictional creations.
She worked on The Gazette and Lytham St Annes Express in the 1960s, not only doing the women’s pages, but also as a general news reporter, covering a wide variety of hard-hitting and human interest stories.
Marilyn, who now lives in Poulton, was following in the footsteps of her late father, Harry Brown, a journalist and sub-editor and former public relations officer based at the Football League, in Lytham.
She said: “It was a very different back then. I don’t think people would believe it in some ways. There were not many female news reporters around at that time.
“There was a different attitude and I did face some people who wanted to make it as difficult as possible for me, but I was determined.
“Once I went to the Winter Gardens to cover an event and went up to speak to the press officer, who informed me he was too busy to talk to me, because he was waiting for “the chap from The Gazette.” I informed him I was the ‘chap’ from The Gazette!
“It was around the time of women’s lib and bra-burning, so it was an interesting and exciting time.
“I was about 19 and unusually was being paid the same as the men.
“My father had three girls – he used to be a journalist – and he always wanted a boy.
“I always wanted to be a journalist and even used to make my own newspapers when I was younger.”
Marilyn’s favourite story when working for The Gazette and Express, was one she wrote about a young girl, who was born with spina bifida.
“It wasn’t as heard of as a condition in those days and this little girl was four and was just taking her first steps.
“It was lovely. I can still see the photographer taking the photo of her with her arms outstretched, walking.
“It went in the newspaper as a double page feature and I was absolutely thrilled with it.”
After leaving the Express in 1974, Marilyn formed a PR and publishing company with her father and later she freelanced for national newspapers and magazines, including The Daily Mail and Woman.
But the grandmother-of-two had always enjoyed writing fiction and decided last year to write her own novel.
She was encouraged by the fact her work was shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award.
She said: “I’d been writing fiction for some time, but this was the first time my work had been acknowledged nationally.
“My daughters thought it was amusing for me to be recognised as new talent at this stage of my career, but I always wanted to be a novelist, so I’m really pleased.”
Published by Safkhet Publishing, Baggy Pants and Bootees follows Yorkshire-based cub reporter Sophie in the search for her missing GI father – mixing humour with heartbreak, confronting some very real issues of the post-war era.
Many men and women of that era spent much time searching for their GI parents, particularly paratroopers, who were nicknamed Baggy Pants after the bulky trousers they wore to carry the equipment they needed when they dropped behind enemy lines.
You can find out more about Marilyn on her blog guernseygirlie.blogspot.com, or on Twitter @MarilyChapma77