Helen Forrester wrote four books about her own life. Starting when she was eleven years old, Twopence to Cross the Mersey begins the poignant story of her poverty-stricken childhood in Liverpool in the 1930’s. The story continues through Liverpool Miss, By the Waters of Liverpool and Lime Street at Two which ends in May, 1945 at the end of the Second World War in Europe. Helen was 26 years old.
Many readers wanted to know more about Helen’s early childhood. Even more people asked eagerly, “What happened next?” Now Helen’s son, Robert Bhatia has written Passage Across the Mersey, Helen’s full life story, much of it in her own words, using hundreds of Helen’s letters and speeches.
Helen used the richness of her own life experience, together with painstaking research, and a keen eye for character to create ten best-selling novels.
The Moneylenders of Shahpur
The Latchkey Kid
Three Women of Liverpool
The Lemon Tree
The Liverpool Basque
Passage Across the Mersey
The remarkable true story of Helen Forrester, author of Twopence to Cross the Mersey, and how she turned her life from tragedy to triumph. When Helen Forrester’s father went bankrupt in the 1930’s, she and her six siblings fell from a comfortable middle-class existence into wretched poverty. Later in life, Helen wrote a ground-breaking series of memoirs, starting with Twopence to Cross the Mersey, which told the harrowing account of her family’s struggles in Depression-era Liverpool. It was a story filled with tragedy and small triumphs but many readers wondered what happened to Helen when she grew up; what became of the fragile young girl who had so much responsibility heaped on her shoulders? Now for the first time, her son Robert recounts the unexpected life that Helen went on to live; of the remarkable love story with a young man from a background a million miles away from everything a Lancashire Lass like Helen would have known and of the astonishing lengths she went to in order to achieve happiness. Full of new revelations and fascinating detail never before revealed, Passage Across the Mersey is a story of an extraordinary woman, and of the journey that took her thousands of miles from the place she called home…
To write Passage Across the Mersey Robert Bhatia reviewed thousands of Helen’s letters as well as many speeches and other writings. He has woven the book together using Helen’s own words wherever possible as well as other research and his own insights. The result is a sweeping narrative of Helen’s life spanning three continents and ninety eventful years.
Twopence to Cross the Mersey
The poignant account of a poverty-stricken childhood in Liverpool during the 1930s, and the brilliant first volume of autobiography. A bestseller ever since it was published in February 1993. One of the most harrowing but uplifting books you will ever read.
Anyone who has enjoyed the Frank McCourt books is going to be equally moved by this magnificent testimony to a little girl’s courage.
When Helen Forrester’s father went bankrupt in 1930 she and her six siblings were forced from comfortable middle-class life in southern England to utmost poverty in the Depression-ridden North. The running of the household, in slum surroundings and with little food, and the care of the younger children all fell on twelve-year-old Helen. She writes about her experiences without self-pity but rather with a rich sense of humour which makes her account of these grim days heartwarmingly funny as well as shockingly moving.
‘It was the biography that I would have written if my parents had not been given benefits, if they’d had to rely on parish hand outs … [I] want to press this book into your hands and go, “You must read this”.’ Caitlin Moran
‘Remarkable that from so bleak and unloving a background came a writer of such affectionate understanding and unsettling honesty’ Sunday Telegraph
‘What makes this writer’s self-told tale so memorable?… An absolute recall, a genius for the unforgettable detail, the rare chance of subject’
The Good Book Guide
‘Should be long and widely read as an extraordinary human story and social document’ Observer —
The second volume of Helen Forrester’s powerful, painful and ultimately uplifting four-volume autobiography of her poverty-stricken childhood in Liverpool during the Depression.
The Forrester family are slowly winning their fight for survival. But fourteen-year-old Helen’s personal battle is to persuade her parents to allow her to earn her own living, to lead her own life after the years of neglect and inadequate schooling while she cared for her six younger brothers and sisters. Her untiring struggles against illness caused by severe malnutrition and dirt (she has her first bath in four years) and, above all, the selfish demands of her parents, make this a story of amazing courage and perseverance.
‘Records of hardship during the Thirties or earlier are not rare; but this has features that make it stand apart’
‘The story of a young girl’s courage and perseverance against adversity… warm-hearted and excellent’
Manchester Evening News —
By the Waters of Liverpool
The third volume in the classic story of Helen Forrester’s childhood and adolescence in poverty-stricken Liverpool during the 1930s.
Helen Forrester continues the moving story of her early poverty-stricken life with an account of her teenage years and the devastating effect of the Second World War on her hometown of Liverpool.
At seventeen, Helen Forrester’s parents are still as irresponsible as ever, wasting money while their children still lack adequate food and clothing. But for Helen, having won a small measure of independence, things are looking up. Having educated herself at night school and now making friends in her first proper job, she meets a handsome seaman and falls in love for the first time. But the storm clouds of war are gathering and Helen will experience at first hand the horror of the blitz and the terrible toll that the war exacted on ordinary people. As ever, Helen faces the future with courage and determination.
Lime Street at Two
The fourth and final part of Helen Forrester’s bestselling autobiography continues the moving story of her early poverty-stricken life with an account of the war years in Blitz-torn Liverpool
In 1940 Helen, now twenty, reeling from the news that her fiance Harry has been killed on an Atlantic convoy, is working long hours at a welfare centre in Bootle, five miles from home. Her wages are pitifully low and her mother claims the whole of them for housekeeping. Then, early in 1941, she gets a new job and begins to enjoy herself a little. But in May the bombing starts again and another move brings more trouble to Helen, trouble which will be faced, as ever, with courage and determination.