Doncaster writer, 81, finally gets the novel he feared he would not live to see published

Doncaster pensioner Alan Harrison waited until he was 81 to publish his first novel – and then feared he may never see it.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 7:00 am

Retired railway engineer Alan, from Warmsworth, spent eight months writing his book, called Ivanhoe Mill, writing it in pencil as his 30-year-old granddaughter, Haley Harrison, typed it for him as he went along.

He was amazed when he sent it off to the publisher – and had it accepted.

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Author Alan Harrison, pictured.

But before the process was completed he fell down the stairs at his home in Warmsworth and broke part of his back, shortly after having his knees replaced.

He said: “I was laid up for nine months with that. I was worried I might die before it was printed.”

But Alan battled through his injuries and was delighted to finally get his hands on the book, published by Austin Macauley, on November 13.

He said: “The magic of this is I’ve waited over 80 years to have a book printed. It’s amazing how things have snowballed. I can’t believe what’s happened.

Author Alan Harrison, pictured. Picture: NDFP-08-12-20-AuthorHarrison 4-NMSY

"I had written books of short stories that were published, with illustrations I had painted too.

"The novel was an idea I had of a picture of in my mind, which I wrote about as the first scene. I kept doing a few pages a day, with my granddaughter typing them.”

The book tells the story of a boy and girl, James and Katy - love and tragedy. Their village is controlled by a devious lord of the manor.

A few weeks after completing the novel, he completed a sequel, Return to Cawston Manor, typed up by his sister, Joyce Mee, of Edlington. He has now submitted that to the publisher too. He is awaiting a reply.

Alan has been a widower since he was 70. His wife, Sheila, was a Doncaster Royal Infirmary nurse who was honoured with a bravery award in 1988 when she saved the life of a police officer who broke their back in a car crash in the early hours of the morning outside the couple’s house. She helped him despite petrol leaking from the car, on what was the day of the couple’s son’s wedding.

He was also a well known local clubs singer. His singing partner, Brenda Threadgold, persuaded him to submit his book.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.