Wigan pensioner defies illness to become children's author

Mary Gonzalez with her Izzy Beaver series
Mary Gonzalez with her Izzy Beaver series

A Wigan woman has made the most of her time battling a myriad illnesses by writing children’s books in her spare time.


Mary Gonzalez has penned several works, most notably the Izzy Beaver series, despite battling a host of health problems in recent years.

The 75-year-old Bryn resident suffers from both heart and thyroid conditions, as well as a recently diagnosed kidney disease.

Mary said: “I even have arthritis, and need hearing aids. I am also inclined to have panic attacks now and again.”

But her ailing health has actually inspired her to keep herself busy, through writing her popular books.

Mary said: “I’ve been writing for about 13 years. I’ve met a lot of interesting people since the start of this.”

The author likes to keep her writing process to the bare necessities. She always hand-writes her stories using good old-fashioned pen and paper, which are then typed up by her sister.

The stories are then illustrated by talent artist Geoff Cogan and then sent off to the publishers.

The adventures of Izzy Beaver have been a hit with local schools in Wigan, and Mary has even been asked to visit the classes directly to hold story workshops with the children at Our Lady Immaculate primary school in Bryn.

“They all wrote down their ideas for the next Izzy Beaver story, and I compiled them together and turned them into the next book,” Mary said.

She added: I think children should read more and be encouraged to write more too.”

She also send the the books to St Vincent’s in Liverpool, a specialist school for children with sensory impairments, where they get turned into braille.

The Rainbow ward at Wigan Infirmary also gets copies due to their popularity with the young patients, and children at Wrightington Hospital also read them out over the hospital’s radio service.

Mary has even started visiting care homes in the area to encourage residents to write, as she believes the task can help to fight dementia.

Mary's own illnesses saw her spending hours travelling to the chemist to pick up her myriad prescriptions, an ordeal that would sometimes culminate in panic attacks if her medication wasn’t ready for collection. The time Mary spent organising travel to and from the chemist, as she doesn’t drive, took away from her true passion – writing children’s books.

She credits Pharmacy2U with enabling her to explore her creative side and to share the joy of writing with others in her community. They provide a mail-order prescription service, allowing Mary to attend her regular commitments without having to take time out of her day to journey to her nearest pharmacy. Visit pharmacy2u.co.uk for more information.

To find out more about Mary and her books, visit izzybeaver.co.uk