22nd January 2020

Obituary for beloved Zaffre author Sheila Newberry

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Obituary for beloved Zaffre author Sheila Newberry

Sheila Newberry, author of twenty-four novels, including Bicycles and Blackberries, The Winter Baby, The Nursemaid’s Secret and A Winter Hope, has died at the age of 88.

Sheila died peacefully on Friday 10th January after a short stay in hospital.

Sheila was born in 1931 in Ipswich, Suffolk, while her mother was visiting family there. She lived in Thornton Heath, Surrey, with her parents and older brother, but was evacuated back to Suffolk with the outbreak of war. The family returned to London after the war where Sheila excelled at school and met her future husband, John, at a dance in Streatham. Sheila and John lived a busy family life and with five children in tow moved to a rural smallholding in Kent and lived off the land. Four more children followed and eventually Sheila was a proud mother to nine, grandmother to twenty-two and great-grandmother to seven. She wrote throughout her life, even telling herself stories in her cot, and it was her storytelling which really marked Sheila out as something special. Drawing on her own life experiences, among other things, she told heartwarming and moving tales about family life and growing up in bygone days.  However, it was only in her later years that Sheila’s writing achieved the success it deserved, making her a Neilsen Bookscan paperback top twenty bestseller.

‘Every bit as warm in person, over the phone and on email as her lovely books promised, she was a joy to work with and we are very proud to have been her publishers. She will be much missed by us all.’

Kate Parkin, Managing Director of Adult Trade

Kate Parkin, M.D. of Adult Trade, Bonnier Books UK said: ‘Sheila was one of our favourite authors, and a genuine delight to publish.  Every bit as warm in person, over the phone and on email as her lovely books promised, she was a joy to work with and we are very proud to have been her publishers. She will be much missed by us all.’

‘Sheila was a wonderful storyteller, as well as a warm, funny and interesting person. I’ll miss her brilliant anecdotes and musings on everything from family life, writing, the weather and the fascinating characters she encountered on her travels. She brought so much joy to my me, and to everyone she worked with.’

Claire Johnson-Creek

Claire Johnson-Creek, Sheila’s editor said: ‘It has been a great pleasure and privilege to know and work with Sheila. The fact that she was writing right up until the end and enthusiastically discussing her latest book edits with me the week before Christmas was truly inspiring.

‘Sheila was a wonderful storyteller, as well as a warm, funny and interesting person. I’ll miss her brilliant anecdotes and musings on everything from family life, writing, the weather and the fascinating characters she encountered on her travels. She brought so much joy to my me, and to everyone she worked with.’

Judith Murdoch, Sheila’s literary agent said: ‘Sheila was one of my first authors and it was lovely to see her late blooming with Zaffre. She will be much missed.’

Sheila Newberry has sold over 350,000 books in both paperback and ebook since her resurgence in 2016. Her next book, The Meadow Girls, will be published in May this year with The Mother and Baby Home scheduled for November.