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Famous people

From literature

Elinor Brent-Dyer

Elinor Brent-Dyer, author of the popular Chalet School books was born on 6 April 1894 in South Shields.

Elinor was educated in her birthplace town of South Shields. After finishing her education, she attended Leeds Training College and returned to teach in her hometown.

In 1922, Elinor published her first book "Gerry Goes to School" which went on to become the first of the La Rochelle titles.

In 1933, Elinor and her mother moved to Hereford and for a while Elinor was a commuting governess until she eventually opened her own school in the area called the Margaret Roper School. The school closed in 1948 by which then Elinor devoted all her time to writing.

Elinor went on to write almost 100 novels including the Chalet School series which follows Madge Bettery and her funding of the Chalet School.

In 1964 following the death of her mother several years earlier, Elinor moved to Redhill. She died there in 1964 and her final book was published posthumously the same year.

Dame Catherine Cookson

Dame Catherine Cookson born Katie McMullen on 20 June 1906 in Tyne Dock was an author and writer. Catherine married Thomas Cookson in 1940 and Katie McMullen then became Catherine Cookson.

On the advice of her doctor, Catherine took up writing and her first novel 'Kate Hannigan' was completed in 1948 at the age of 42. She continued to write at a punishing pace, often from her sick bed, eventually completing 103 books.

As Catherine's health deteriorated the Cooksons settled back in the North East.

Catherine received countless literary awards and honours including the OBE in 1985 and an honorary Doctorate of letters by Sunderland Polytechnic in 1991. South Tyneside's most famous daughter became Dame Catherine Cookson in the 1993 New Year's Honours List.

Dame Catherine Cookson died on 11 June 1998 at her home in Newcastle.

South Tyneside was used as the location for the filming of the popular Cookson TV adaptations.

Cookson fans should head to South Shields Museum and Art Gallery for more information.

Lewis Carroll

Whitburn has strong links with another famous literary figure, Lewis Carroll.

The author spent holidays in the village and gained inspiration for his books, "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice Through The Looking Glass" from people he met in the area.

Alan Plater

The writer Alan Plater was born and raised in Jarrow.

From theatre and screen

  • Westoe Village was the birthplace of actress Dame Flora Robson
  • Creative South Tynesiders also include film directors Tony and Ridley Scott
  • Well known comedian Steven Furst was born in South Shields, most well known for his Orange mobile phone cinema adverts.
  • South Shields' very own and well loved comedian Sarah Millican
  • Chris Ramsey is a stand up comedian and actor from South Shields, who won the heart of the nation with his original BBC TV show based in Hebburn
  • Eric Idle, the comedian, actor, author, singer, writer and comedic composer was born 24 March 1943 in Harton Village, South Shields. Idle was a member of the British comedy group Monty Python and a member of the Rutles on the very popular American TV show Saturday Night Live. He is also author of the hit Broadway musical Spamalot
    • Eric's most famous work includes; Monty Python's Life of Brian, Casper, The Wind and the Willows, South Park: The Movie and Monty Python's Holy Grail.

From politics

  • Sir William Fox, three times Prime Minister of New Zealand

From sport

  • Jarrow Arrow Steve Cram and middle distance runner David Sharpe
  • Frank Williams was born in South Shields and lived in Jarrow before going on to conquer the world of Formula 1
  • Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig, who was born and raised in South Shields, won Gold at the 2012 Paralympic games in London

From music

  • Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall from Little Mix, arguably the most popular girls group from the UK at the moment, are from South Shields
  • The area has certainly been represented well on prime talent shows such as X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, with another alumni being Joe McElderry
  • Alan Price, who shot to fame with The Animals, was educated at Jarrow Grammar School
  • Musician John Miles was born and bred in Jarrow
  • Formed in 2011 in South Shields The Waiters are an all boy pop band and were crowned The Pride of South Tyneside Young Performer of the Year in 2013
  • Claire Rutter is an English Operatic Soprano
  • John (Jack) Alexander Brymer OBE was a world famous clarinettist, who played with the London Symphony Orchestra
  • Ginger Wildheart, lead singer of rock band Ginger and the Wildhearts was born in South Shields