New Proofs

When I Had a Little Sister by Catherine Simpson

October 23, 2018

The Story of a Farming Family Who Never Spoke


When I had a Little Sister is a searingly honest and wryly heartbreaking memoir about a Lancashire farming family, whose love of their land came hand in hand with the resilience to live off it. It’s a story of sisters and sacrifice, grief and reclamation, and of the need to speak the unspeakable.

When did she decide to die? Was it before midnight on Friday the 6th, because she couldn’t face another night or was it before dawn on Saturday the 7th because she couldn’t face another day?

Did she think about us? Did she think about her dog, Ted, or her cat, Puss, sleeping on Grandma Mary’s old sofa in the conservatory and who would be waiting for her to feed them in the morning? What about her horses in the stable? Did she think about them? Did she imagine Dad finding her? It would have to be Dad, after all. It couldn’t be anyone else.

Did she know what she was doing?

On a cold December day in 2013 Catherine Simpson received the phone call she had feared for years. Her little sister Tricia had been found dead in the farmhouse where she, Catherine and their sister Elizabeth were born – and where their family had lived for generations.

Tricia was 46 and had been stalked by depression all her life. Yet mental illness was a taboo subject within the family and although love was never lacking, there was a silence at its heart.

After Tricia died, Catherine found she had kept a lifetime of diaries. The words in them took her back to a past they had shared, but experienced so differently, and offered a thread to help explore the labyrinth of her sister’s suicide.


Published 7th February 2019 | Hardback | 9780008301637 | RRP £14.99

If you’re a bookseller in the UK or Ireland and you’d like an advance reading copy of When I Had a Little Sister , please send your request, along with your name and bookshop address, to Ammara at independentthinking@harpercollins.co.uk.


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