Author Profile : Mary Cavanagh

Mary Cavanagh spent her childhood in the leafy climes of beautiful North Oxford. Amusing memories abound of eccentric academic neighbours and gentile snobs, most of whom were struggling to make ends meet on 1950’s austerity. Being a pupil at St Barnabas Junior school in Jericho was a privilege and a delight; an experience she feels honoured to have shared with such friendly and unpretentious classmates. Milham Ford Girls Grammar was another story. Being lazy and academically challenged she was grateful to show a clean pair of heels. A hedonistic working life of sorts followed as a hairdresser, office clerk, graphic artist, barmaid, au pair, lab assistant and various other forgotten nightmares, none of which she took at all seriously. She married Bill, and had two sons, Alastair and Rory.

It was only as a mature lady of 35 that she pulled her act together and became a student at Westminster Teacher Training College. Whilst always being a voracious reader it was her English course that evoked the joy of creative writing. Wisely, or not, she chose not to teach and spent the next twenty years being completely fulfilled in medical management and administration.

The Crowded Bed is her first published novel, born out of her two fascinations. The strange and secret life that is lived within the mind, and the myriad of changes in social and moral behaviour over the last fifty years. She would describe her style as Daphne du Maurier meets Tom Sharpe, but her favourite authors are George Orwell and Arnold Bennett.

Although she’s the proud grandmother of Ella Sophie she refuses to give into the march of time (poor sad old bat) and still wants to experience life as if she’s twenty-five.

By this author

The Crowded Bed by Mary Cavanagh

ISBN: 978-1905175314

Published: January 2007

Read an extract from the book here

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"Good evening, dear friend. I’m extremely pleased to see you, but I’m sure you’ll understand why I can’t give you my full attention. Joe Fortune is just about to kill his father-in-law, and I’ve no intention of missing this long-awaited event."


Joe Fortune, a Jewish GP, has been married to Anna, his Aryan beauty, for twenty years, in a relationship that is sustained with great passion and happiness. But in the shadows of their lives, dark secrets are hidden. Joe has long nurtured a desire to murder Gordon, Anna’s father; a motive born of past events and involving revenge, mutual hatred, and Gordon’s deep prejudice for Joe’s Judaism.

‘If you wrong us, shall we not seek revenge?’

Anna too is hiding deep, painful secrets. In a highly charged exposé the reader is led back and forth over the changing face of the last half century to discover love, lies, passion, religion, cruelty and violence. While the powerful Joe is revealed as angry and resentful, Anna’s quiet dignity discloses her own extraordinary and shocking revelations.

‘The pain became a habit, a way of life, like a little ghost that sat on my shoulder’.


‘Mary Cavanagh handles themes of murder, rape, anti-Semitism, adultery, alcoholism and physical abuse with unexpectedly deft wit to create a complex and satisfying drama. … entertaining, cleverly constructed and an impressive achievement. A dark and demanding read.’

Abingdon Park Readers group

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