Helen Cadbury, author

Helen Cadbury
Helen Cadbury
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Helen Cadbury, who has died at 52, was a teacher, poet and dramatist who found her calling as the author of the Sean Denton series of crime novels.

The first in the franchise, To Catch a Rabbit, had jointly won the inaugural Northern Crime Award in 2015, and in January that year Ms Cadbury had been chosen as an Amazon Rising Star.

Shortly afterwards, the production company responsible for the BBC crime series, Death in Paradise, bought the screen rights.

But it had been a rollercoaster year, she had said in an interview with The Yorkshire Post, for the activity coincided with a diagnosis of breast cancer and a cycle of chemotherapy.

“I turned 50, published two books, sold my TV rights and had breast cancer,” she said. “So you could say it was a really big year.”

Ms Cadbury, who lived in York, had been working on a further novel at the time of her death, which, said Jamie McGarry, her publisher at Valley Press in Scarborough, had come “as an enormous shock”.

“Helen was constantly filled with life and ideas, and was speaking only yesterday about launch plans for her forthcoming books,” Mr McGarry said.

Ms Cadbury was born in the Midlands and grew up in Saddleworth, near Oldham. She was an actor and drama teacher and worked in prison education before turning to crime fiction.

Her Sean Denton stories were set on the streets of a fictional estate in Doncaster, an amalgam of real Yorkshire places. “If it’s based on anything it’s based on a mixture of places that I’ve worked in Sheffield, bits of Doncaster, Hull and an estate where my husband used to work in Leeds,” she said.

She called it Chasebridge, an estate she thought could exist on the outskirts of any northern town or city. It was also the name picked for the TV adaptation. Her second novel, Bones In The Nest, was published in 2015 and its sequel, Race To The Kill, is due out in September.

She had taken to writing relatively late, letting two decades pass before considering that she had enough to write about, but determining at 40 to sit down for long enough to start.

Her fellow writer, Julian Cole, who interviewed her last year, described her as indefatigable, full of curiosity and ideas and seemingly set for a long professional future.

“She had begun her treatment and appeared mostly positive about the future,” Mr Cole said. “And she had much to look forward to: the continuing success of her Sean Denton novels, her poetry, her family and friends.

“We met a few times since and she had seemed her usual self. Her death seemed sudden, as few outside her immediate circle knew that the cancer had returned. The only hint was a picture of her in hospital a few weeks ago, smiling.”

Ms Cadbury is survived by her husband and two sons. Her sister, Ruth Cadbury, is Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth.