Award-winning author Anne Goodwin has set her new novel in Cumbria – where she was born and went to school.

The book, titled Matilda Windsor is Coming Home, tells the story of Matty, a woman incarcerated in a psychiatric institution for decades after having an ‘illegitimate’ child.

The story follows her as a teenager in the 1930s and around 1990 as a 70-year-old patient discovering the hospital is closing down.

Anne, whose first novel was shortlisted for the prestigious Polari Prize, said: “When I started writing Matilda Windsor is Coming Home in 2014 I placed my characters in an imaginary landscape, but they kept going astray. It wasn’t until the fifth draft that I realised a Cumbrian setting would be ideal.

“The final settings are a mix of fact and fiction. I based the asylum on the long-stay psychiatric hospital in Newcastle where I worked as a clinical psychologist in the 1980s and 1990s. I based the unnamed town, where Matty and the other residents might be moving, on Workington, where I grew up.

“But I had to play adjust the geography to fit the story, so I included real local landmarks to produce a stronger sense of place. Scafell Pike gets a mention, as do Jennings bitter, rum butter and Egremont’s Crab Fair.

“Matty’s young social worker, Janice, visits Keswick’s Pencil Museum and attends live music nights at the Matador pub. Janice’s ex-boyfriend works at Sellafield and Janice tries to find Matty’s relatives through an advert in the Times & Star.”

The Times & Star's former columnist and local historian, How Michael (Trevor Jones), advised Anne on 1930s Cumbria.

Thanks to him, the novel’s main character Matty, spends her early years on The Marsh, shops at Browne’s department store in Murray Road and dances to the Savana Band at the refurbished Stanley Hall.

Anne’s two sisters – Clare Goodwin, who lives in Workington, and Linda Bowes, who lives in Cockermouth – also helped with the settings, as did Janet McElwee from Maryport, an old school friend.

Anne attended St Joseph’s School in Workington and combined a research trip for the novel with a class reunion in 2018 at Workington.

On visiting the area from her home in Nottinghamshire, Anne loves hearing the local accent and dialect.

She was keen to include some of that language in Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home. Fortunately, her editor and publisher, Sara-Jayne Slack of Derby-based Inspired Quill, approved.

“As a small press committed to non-tokenistic diversity, we are proud to publish a novel which centres a character with serious mental health challenges. The use of dialect words help to embed the reality of the text.”

Readers from four continents attended the online book launch and the novel has already earned praise from early readers in the US, New Zealand and Spain.

Anne said: “I’m delighted by these glowing endorsements. It is wonderful to think there’s a piece of my birthplace on bookshelves around the world.”

Matilda Windsor is Coming Home is Anne’s third novel. Her first novel, Sugar and Snails, set in Newcastle, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize and voted the Nottingham Writers’ Studio Book of the Year (Fiction).

She has also had almost 100 short stories published, with several placed in competitions, and recently won the Ilkley Festival and Writers’ Bureau short story competitions.

Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home is available through most online and off-line bookstores.

To find out more about Anne Goodwin and her novel, go to: