Catherine Cookson the bestseller of the decade

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DAME CATHERINE Cookson, who died last year, was confirmed as Britain's best-selling author of the decade in a listpublished yesterday.

It was no surprise when the perennial favourite led the top 10 with 14.5 million sales in the past 10 years. Dame Catherine's novels have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. Her first novel, Kate Hannigan, was published in 1950.

At number two was the less well-known name of Dr David Hessayon, whose gardening guides, such as The House Plant Expert, have sold 10.5 million copies in the past decade alone. Dr Hessayon was chief scientist at a gardening firmwhen he started writing.

In the 40 years since his first book, Be Your Own Gardening Expert appeared, Dr Hessayon has sold 40 million books but shuns publicity.

The list was compiled to mark the 10th anniversary of the British Book Awards.

Top 10 of the Nineties

Author Genre Sales

1 Catherine Cookson romantic fiction 14.5m

2 David Hessayon gardening 10.5m

3 Terry Pratchett science fiction 10m

4 Danielle Steel romantic fiction 8m+

5 Delia Smith cookery 8m

6 Stephen King modern horror 7.5m

7 John Grisham legal thrillers 7m+

8 Dick Francis thrillers 7m

9 Maeve Binchy fiction 5.5m

10 Wilbur Smith adventure fiction 5m

Source: Bookwatch