The Mary Ann Shaughnessy series of books are a series of fiction novels written by the Brtish author Catherine Cookson. Like a lot of Catherine Cookson’s work, the Mary Ann Shaughnessy series is more a character study of what it is like for a young woman growing up in poverty in the north east of England, more specifically Tyneside, which is an area Catherine Cookson knew well, having spent many of her formative years there. In fact, the Mary Ann Shaughnessy series mirrors Cookson’s life quite a bit, as their early years are somewhat similar, with both growing up in poverty in the north east of England. However, as the series progresses, the lines between Cookson herself and Mary Ann Shaughnessy become far more defined, as the character begins to take on a life of her own.
Order of Mary Ann Shaughnessy Series
|1||A Grand Man (Short Story)||1954|
|2||The Lord and Mary Ann||1956|
|3||The Devil and Mary Ann||1958|
|4||Marriage and Mary Ann (Short Story)||1964|
|5||Mary Ann's Angels||1965|
|6||Mary Ann and Bill||1967|
|7||Life And Mary Ann||1972|
|8||Love and Mary Ann||1977|
|9||Bill and the Mary Ann Shaughnessy||2011|
Mary Ann Shaughnessy is the lead character in the Mary Ann Shaughnessy series of novels by English author Catherine Cookson. Shaughnessy made her first appearance in the debut novel of the series “Grand Man” that was first published in 1954. The novels are generally classified as historical romance novels.
In 1954, Catherine Cookson started the Mary Ann Shaughnessy with the book A Grand Man. The first book in the Mary Ann Shaughnessy is set on Tyneside, and it acts as an introduction to the character of Mary Ann Shaughnessy. The main personality trait that sets Mary Ann Shaughnessy apart from others is her unbridled devotion to her family, especially her father, after whom the book is named. In fact, Mary Ann Shaughnessy goes as far as to say, “Me da’s a grand man,” and will bring her fury down on anyone who suggests otherwise. A Grand Man chart’s Mary Ann Shaughnessy’s attempts, by hook or by crook, to get a better life for her family, and she will stop at nothing to help her father get back to the exalted place she feels the ‘grand man’ belongs. The popularity of A Grand Man led to it being made into the film Jacqueline, which was released in 1956. While Jacqueline is based on the book A Grand Man, the book is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as opposed to Tyneside, and the lead character is called Jacqueline McNeil, not Mary Ann Shaughnessy.
The second book in the Mary Ann Shaughnessy series of books is The Lord and Mary Ann, which was published in 1956. We find eight-year-old Mary Ann living on a farm with her family (her mother, father and brother), and things seem to be going well for the Shaughnessy family. In fact, Mary Ann has even developed a bit of a bond with the farm’s owner, Mr Lord (hence, in part, the title of the book). Mary Ann also seeks to find answers on her dilemma’s from Father Owen, but she also needs his help and advice when it looks like her family might just be torn apart when a face from the past threatens to tear the family’s seemingly perfect life apart.
Catherine Cookson followed up The Lord and Mary Ann with The Devil and Mary Ann, which was published in 1958. This was followed by Love and Mary Ann in 1961 and then Life and Mary Ann in 1962. Marriage and Mary Ann, the sixth book in the series, was published in 1964, which was followed by Mary Ann’s Angels in 1965 and then Mary Ann and Bill in 1967. The final book in the Mary Ann Shaughnessy series, Bill and The Mary Ann Shaughnessy, was published in 1991, and is the conclusion to the much loved series, 24 years after the publication of the eighth and seemingly final book.
The series of novels mirrors the life of Catherine Cookson as they analyze how it was to grow up in the poverty-stricken North East of England, particularly Tyneside. The novels follow the life of Mary Ann Shaughnessy as she navigates a life of poverty that is full of tribulations and trials typical of such a life.
The first novel in the series introduces us to Mary Ann Shaughnessy, who lives in a tenement in the North East England town of Tyneside together with her family. She dreams of making a better life for herself and her family. She is full of faith that despite the odds stacked against her; she will work hard and make something of her life.
What follows is a humorous take on the life of the character as she connives, battles, and bargains for a better way of life for her family, especially for her father, who is the most important man in her life. Catherine Cookson writes a fairy tale narrative that brings together the authentic and desentimentalized background into a believable and enthralling story, that we have come to expect of the bestselling romance author.
BEST MARY ANN SHAUGHNESSY BOOKS
A Grand Man: This is the first novel of the Mary Ann Shaughnessy series of novels featuring the feisty lead character Mary Ann. Mary is an eight-year-old girl who lives with her mother, father, and brother Michael. Mary’s most hated enemy is Sarah Flannigan, a girl that lives across the street. Mary Ann’s best friend is a priest, Father Owen who she tells everything about her family. She tells him of her father’s alcoholism; how her mother wants to abandon the marriage; and why she believes that deep down he is truly a great man. Her denial of her father’s problem only lasts until she sees that her father is irredeemably lost to alcoholism. She fails in trying to get her parents to reconcile as she is only an eight year old, who is likely to be overwhelmed with the big ask of finding her father a cottage and a job, which is the only thing that will keep the marriage intact.
Mary Ann’s Angels: The seventh novel in the Mary Ann Shaughnessy series, “Mary Ann’s Angels” features two Mary Anns. One of the twins is a talkative one just like Mary Ann at eight while the other is a delightful non-troublesome child. However while they delight in the calm child, he is too quiet, while the other is also a source of frustration for being too troublesome. Mary Ann and her husband Corny disagree on how to solve the issue of the dispositions of the children, which causes a huge blowup that sees Mary Ann walk out the family home. Could the two lovebirds be over even before they have begun? Will either of them compromise and save the young marriage?
Mary Ann and Bill: The last novel of the series is another excellent novel in the series. In this novel, she is a 27-year-old woman with the twins Rose Mary and David now six years old and still causing her a lot of trouble. Rose Mary always seems to get her way while David is big on swearing. In addition, Mary Ann got a bull terrier Bill, who is just adding more complications in her life, as he is not house trained. But Mary Ann has more important things on her mind, as her husband has been eyeing a young woman who just moved into the neighborhood.
OTHER BOOK SERIES YOU MAY LIKE
Most fans of the Mary Ann Shaughnessy series of novels also love the “Campion Family” series of novels by Annie Groves. These are romance historical novels about the Campion family living in Liverpool during World War II. Mary Ann Shaughnessy fans also enjoy the “Eden” series of novels by Marilyn Harris. These are historical romances set in 18th century England and post-Civil War America. They follow the lives of the men of the aristocratic Eden family in their quest for love and their destiny.