A WRITER who left school at the age of 15 has spoken of her delight of becoming a bestselling author as her third book is released.

Emma Hornby's A Shilling for a Wife become the bestselling debut saga novel of 2017.

"I'm over the moon with how well received my writing has been," said Emma, a mum-of-three who lives in Breightmet.

"My debut novel, A Shilling for a Wife, was the bestselling saga debut of 2017, which we're all delighted about. Feedback has been incredibly positive — it's far exceeded my expectations. Book two, Manchester Moll, is also doing very well and I look forward to seeing what readers make of my third offering."

Like A Shilling for a Wife, The Orphans of Ardwick is a historical novel.

Emma, aged 34, said: "It was whilst researching for something else that I got the inspiration for this book.

"I stumbled across reports of Victorian children who, for various reasons, were abandoned on the streets of Manchester.

"This was a huge problem in big cities. Death and disease in the slums were rife — should a child lose its parents, and family or friends already struggling to scratch by refused to take them in, orphans were simply left to fend for themselves.

"Bar the workhouse, very little help was available for destitute children, charities such as Barnardo's didn't come into being until 1866. In the years before this, the young and vulnerable simply survived the best they could.

"It made for both harrowing and fascinating reading. Immediately, imaginary characters appeared in my mind with names, backstories, hopes and dreams —- the idea was born. Like my other books, it's a gritty tale of love and hardship and gives an unflinching glimpse into a bygone era most of us today struggle to imagine."

Emma has recently signed another three-book deal with my publisher Transworld, Penguin Random House, and am currently busy writing my fourth book, out next year.

She said: "I couldn't ever imagine doing anything else, now. Writing was my dream and I feel so very fortunate to be living it. The unwavering encouragement of my three children and fiancé is hugely important. They are more excited than me when they spot my books on shop shelves and always make sure to take a 'shelfie'. They even accompanied me on my first book-signing at Waterstones! Thankfully, they understand when deadlines are looming and I must write, or need space to conduct research. Their support really does make all the difference," said Emma.

The Orphans of Ardwick is available online now in eBook and hardback - paperback hits bookshops and supermarkets May 3.