Kate Thompson is a journalist with over 15 years’ experience working in print media.
Before becoming freelance, she worked as a deputy then acting editor of IPC’s award-winning weekly Pick Me Up magazine, helping to launch it into the market in 2005 with a debut readership of half a million, making it the most successful magazine launch in a decade and helping it to secure the BSME launch of the year in the process.
Kate went on to secure IPC’s ‘true-life writer of the year’ award the following year in 2006. In addition, Kate is an experienced ghostwriter, having ghosted four memoirs over the last three years.
Her debut novel, Secrets of the Singer Girls, became a Sunday Times bestseller when it launched in 2015, with first week sales of over 10,000.
The Stepney Doorstep Society
The unsung and remarkable stories of the women who held London’s East End together during not one, but two world wars.
Minksy, Gladys, Beatty, Joan, Girl Walker. While the men were at war, these women ruled the streets of the East End. Brought up with firm hand in the steaming slums and teeming tenements, they struggled against poverty to survive, and fought for their community in our country’s darkest hours.
But there was also joy to be found. From Stepney to Bethnal Green, Whitechapel to Shoreditch, the streets were alive with peddlers and market stalls hawking their wares, children skipping across dusty hopscotch pitches, the hiss of a gas lamp or the smell of oxtail stew. You need only walk a few steps for a smile from a neighbour or a strong cup of tea.
From taking over the London Underground, standing up to the Kray twins and crawling out of bombsites, The Stepney Doorstep Society tells the vivid and moving stories of the matriarchs who remain the backbone of the East End to this day.
The Allotment Girls
During the Second World War, life in the iconic Bryant & May match factory is grimy and tough. Annie, Rose, Pearl and Millie carry on making matches for the British Army, with bombs raining down around them.
Inspired by the Dig for Victory campaign, Annie persuades the owners to start the Bryant & May allotment in the factory grounds. With plenty of sweat and toil, the girls eventually carve out a corner of the yard into a green plot full of life and colour.
In the darkest of times, the girls find their allotment a tranquil, happy escape. Using pierced dustbin lids to sieve through the shrapnel and debris, they bring about a powerful change, not just in the factory, but their own lives.
As the war rages on, the garden becomes a place of community, friendship – and deceit. As the garden thrives and grows, so do the girls’ secrets . . .
The Wedding Girls
If a wedding marks the first day of the rest of your life, then the story starts with the dress.
It’s 1936 and the streets of London’s East End are grimy and brutal, but in one corner of Bethnal Green it is forever Hollywood . . .
Herbie Taylor’s photography studio is nestled in the heart of bustling Green Street. Tomboy Stella and troubled Winnie work in Herbie’s studio; their best friend and hopeless romantic Kitty works next door as an apprentice dressmaker. All life passes through the studio, wishing to capture that perfect moment in time.
Kitty works tirelessly to create magical bridal gowns, but with each stitch she wonders if she’ll ever get a chance to wear a white dress. Stella and Winnie sprinkle a dusting of Hollywood glamour over happy newly-weds, but secretly dream of escaping the East End . . .
Community is strong on Green Street, but can it stand the ultimate test? As clouds of war brew on the horizon, danger looms over the East End. Will the Wedding Girls find their happy ever afters, before it’s too late?
Secrets of the Sewing Bee
Orphan Flossy Brown arrives at Trout’s garment factory in Bethnal Green amidst the uncertainty of the Second World War. In 1940s’ London, each cobbled street is strewn with ghosts of soldiers past, all struggling to make ends meet. For the women of the East End, their battles are on the home front.
Flossy is quickly embraced by the colourful mix of characters working at Trout’s, who have turned their sewing expertise to vital war work. They fast become the family that Flossy has always longed for. Dolly Doolaney, darling of the East End, and infamous tea lady, gives her a particularly warm welcome and helps Flossy settle into wartime life.
Things aren’t so easy for Peggy Piper, another new recruit at the factory. She’s used to the high life working as a nippie in the West End, and is not best pleased to find herself bent over a sewing machine. But war has the ability to break down all sorts of class barriers and soon Peggy finds the generosity and spirit of her fellow workers difficult to resist.
Dolly sets up a sewing circle and the ladies at Trout’s play their part in defending the frontline as they arm themselves with their needles and set about stitching their way to victory. But as the full force of the Blitz hits London, the sewing bee are forced to shelter in the underground tube stations on a nightly basis.
In such close quarters, can Dolly manage to contain the secret that binds them all? And how will Peggy and Flossy cope as their lives are shaped and moved by forces outside of their control?
Secrets of the Singer Girls
1942. Sixteen-year-old Poppy Percival turns up at the gates of Trout’s clothing factory in Bethnal Green with no idea what her new life might have in store.
There to start work as a seamstress and struggling to get to grips with the noise, dirt and devastation of East London, Poppy can’t help but miss the quiet countryside of home. But Poppy harbours a dark secret – one that wrenched her away from all she knew and from which she is still suffering . . .
And Poppy’s not the only one with a secret. Each of her new friends at the factory is hiding something painful.
Vera Shadwell, the forelady, has had a hard life with scars both visible and concealed; her sister Daisy has romantic notions that could get her in trouble; and Sal Fowler is a hardworking mother who worries about her two evacuated boys for good reason.
Bound by ties of friendship, loyalty and family, the devastating events of war will throw each of their lives into turmoil but also bring these women closer to each other than they could ever have imagined.
‘A poignant and moving story of the friendship of women during wartime Britain.’
— Val Wood
‘The way Kate Thompson writes … made me feel that I was reading about old friends. I just had to keep the pages turning.’
— Pam Weaver
‘Marvellous, full of gutsy characters I immediately empathised with.’
— Margaret Pemberton