Mary Gibson is an English author of seven fiction novels. All of her books are set in Bermondsey, where she was born and grew up. Gibson tells the stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times during the first half of the twentieth century.
To date 300,000+ copies of Mary Gibson's books have been sold.
Mary Gibson was born and brought up in Bermondsey, southeast London. In 2009, after a thirty-year career in publishing, she took the opportunity of early retirement to write a book of her own. She was inspired to use Bermondsey as the backdrop for her novels when she realized that the once tight-knit community she grew up in had vanished forever.
The result was her début novel, Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts (2013), which was inspired by the lives and times of her grandparents in World War One Bermondsey.
"My debut novel Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts was largely inspired by my grandmother who started work as a powder packer in Pearce Duffs custard factory before World War One and worked there for most of her life. The Bermondsey women’s strike of 1911 gave me the starting point for the story when I realized that my grandmother would have been one of the thousands of strikers who walked out of the factories, dressed in their Sunday best, one sweltering day in what became known as the ‘Summer of Unrest’. The ending was inspired by my grandfather’s experiences in the Royal Field Artillery during World War One," Gibson says.
The story became a top ten Kindle bestseller and was selected as one of twenty titles for World Book Night 2015.
Her second novel, Jam and Roses (2014), is set in the Dockhead area of Bermondsey. Gibson was inspired by stories of her mother growing up in the Catholic, poor riverside community of docks, warehouses, food factories, slum courts, and alleys, "where the depth of poverty of its residents was equaled only by their generosity of spirit."
It became a Nielsen Top 20 hardback bestseller and a kindle Top 20.
Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys (2015), a World War Two Bermondsey novel, was published in 2015, followed by Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams (2016), Hattie's Home (2017), A Sister's Struggle (2018), and The Bermondsey Bookshop (2020).
"My latest novel is inspired by the real shop in Bermondsey Street, founded by visionary ex-actress, Ethel Gutman, in 1921. Her aim: ‘To bring books and the love of books into Bermondsey.’ Everything was designed to make the shop accessible to local working people, and my story follows Kate Goss, who lives in a dark, freezing garret, bullied by her aunt and cousins after the death of her mother," the novelist says.
Mary Gibson now lives in Kent.
Photo credit: www.marygibsonauthor.co.uk