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Tributes & MessagesMary Pickin

I first met Julia in 1986 when I was working for Tyne and Wear Theatre in Education as their Education Liaison worker. She had been commissioned to write a community play. Then I joined Gillian Allnut’s "Writing from the Inside Out" in 1997 and Julia was a member, even though she had already had her first novel, Crocodile Soup published. She was thrilled about being published and told us how different publishers were fighting for it, bidding more and more money. I remember she said how great it was to be able to go to buy something at Bainbridges without having to worry! We talked about her cancer. My sister had died of breast cancer aged 34 in 1991 but I can remember her optimism over her own situation and her telling me that being diagnosed with cancer had made her stop doing commissions, things for other people, and start to write what she really wanted to write. And it was wonderful writing! I loved to listen to her read her bits of work completed at the Gillian’s group. Her words soared, flew, and I imagined reading them in her later novels. When I got Breast Cancer in 2001 I rang her and she gave me the name of a really good book to read about it.

One of the best poems I ever wrote was written in her workshop. She was an inspiration.

Mary Pickin