WRITER Fleur Speakman has kept herself busy during the coronavirus lockdown and has celebrated her 80th birthday by publishing a collection of short stories.

Fleur, who lives in Burley-in-Wharfedale with her husband and fellow writer, Colin Speakman, is already a published writer of non-fiction, but Ways of Coping: 15 Short Stories is her first collection of stories.

Her stories are varied in style, content, and period, which she hopes will provide a welcome change from longer block-buster novels.

Ways of Coping highlight her characters’ attempts to find their way through their differing problems, whether in Georgian England, Jersey under German occupation, early Quakerism in the Dales, or even present-day teenagers trying to make sense of their immediate world and the pitfalls of social media.

Author and publisher, Chris Grogan says of the book: “The themes of Ways of Coping are especially relevant for the times we are living in. Even those stories that are set out in a definite era, still resonate today.

“I was particularly moved by ‘Sixpence’ which deals with the tragic consequences of going public with opinions and the power of social media.”

In 2017 Fleur, a former tourism consultant, collaborated with husband, Colin on The Yorkshire Wolds: A Journey of Discovery. She has also written walking guides featuring Austria and Germany, with the Green Guide to Germany launched at the German Embassy in 1992. She was also for many years’ editor of the quarterly Yorkshire Dales Digest for the Yorkshire Dales Society - now Friends of the Dales, and for more than 20 years its joint secretary.

Fleur says she has found the Dales to be a ‘tremendous stimulus to creativity’ and also two of the area’s writing groups - initially Ilkley Writers and more recently the U3A Friday Creative Writing group based in Ben Rhydding. “You learn so much from listening to other people’s work and from the regular challenge of having to produce your own new material,” she said.

Ways of Coping by Fleur Speakman is published by Ings Poetry at £5, and can be obtained from the publisher, post free by emailing mikefarren@outlook.com. PayPal available.