BORN during a snowstorm behind a theatre, drama would later go on to help a best-selling Bolton author sell more than two million books.

Acclaimed writer Ruth Hamilton died in Aintree University last Thursday at the age of 76.

Also known as Linda Thornber, neé Girling, she was born on January 28, 1940, in the family home behind the former Theatre Royal in Churchgate.

Despite growing up in a house in Tonge Moor Road and spending her life in Merseyside and Lancashire, the theatre would go on to be the setting of many of her novels.

Her father died during the Second World War and she was brought up by her mother who believed passionately in education, sending her to study at Grammar School.

Subsequently she studied for a brief time at the Sorbonne and then worked as a teacher.

Her first steps in her writing career were for television and she wrote The Ballyskillen Opera House, a six part series for Granada, and also worked on scripts for comedians.

In the late 1980s she wrote her first novel and sent the package around a number of publishers until it fell upon the desk of Diane Pearson at Corgi Books, a prominent figure in the world of commercial fiction editors.

The mum-of-two was summoned to London where she signed the contract for her first book, A Whisper to the Living, which was published in 1989.

She went on to write more than 30 books, 18 published by Corgi/Transworld and 10 published by Pan Macmillan, where she developed a close relationship with her editor Wayne Brookes.

Set against a harsh industrial background, Ruth developed the reputation of a strong story-teller who involved the reader in the lives of her characters.

Spending most of her life in the North West, she often returned to Bolton and used the town as the setting for many of her famous books.

More than two million of her books have been sold, and among her most successful titles were With Love from Ma Maguire, Billy London’s Girls and The Bells of Scotland Road.

Her last novel Midnight on Lime Street will be published in paperback by Pan Macmillan on June 16.

An accomplished poet and a passionate lover of animals, rescuing many from animal centres or in other circumstances, she spent much of her life battling diabetes.

She is survived by her sons David Thornber and Michael Thornber, and by her grandchildren Christopher and Libby.

On her death her family sent a "big thank you" to everyone who read and enjoyed her books.