Author and journalist. Witty and discerning, she can always be relied upon to evolve a ‘different’ approach to her subject.
Contributor to the National Press and author of WHO IS FATHER CHRISTMAS?, A TASTE OF CIDER, and, with her late, first husband, John, three titles in the Collins Welcome Guides series – Greece, Ireland, Austria & Switzerland. For Collins, too, in 1986 she wrote an evocative story of The Channel, which attracted wide and favourable notice. In 1987 she wrote, for Century New Approaches To Cancer, which, again, earned her impressive comment, gaining strong medical support.
She published, in May 1990, an important work involving comprehensive research internationally for Christopher Helm, entitled CULTS: THE BATTLE FOR GOD.
Her next book proved controversial and compelling and, to quote the author, “a once in a lifetime opportunity”: THE DIARY OF JACK THE RIPPER was originally published by Smith Gryphon in the UK, by Hyperion in the US and currently in over a dozen translations. New Line Cinema bought the film rights. In the meantime, LWT produced a new programme, in which Shirley took part, called The Trial Of Jack The Ripper, taking place before a live audience, who acted as the “jury”. This was a Spring 2002 production and viewers unanimously voted James Maybrick as the “Ripper”.
A new, wholly updated edition of THE DIARY OF JACK THE RIPPER was published in Autumn 1998, by Blake, with three reprints, since. And a further edition – sub-headed, The American Connection, was issued in November 2003, with new clues and associations with the Ripper in the USA.
9 May 2007, as part of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture, saw Shirley Harrison’s THE DIARY OF JACK THE RIPPER once again at the centre of controversy – 14 years after it was first published.
The Trial of James Maybrick was staged by the Liverpool Cricket Club, of which he was a member, and which celebrated its 200th anniversary that year. Visitors from many countries were there and descendents of those involved in the story gathered to hear the evidence, chaired by crime expert, the late Jeremy Beadle. There was a vintage bus tour of the Maybrick sites. Speakers included Shirley Harrison, Professor William Rubinstein of the University of Wales and Professor David Canter of Liverpool University. Once again, James Maybrick was pronounced the Ripper!
The latest edition of THE DIARY OF JACK THE RIPPER (John Blake) with a new Foreword from Shirley Harrison, appropriately titled Tempus Fugit, was issued in April 2010.
Mrs Harrison has specialised in travel features for newspapers and magazines and her material has appeared, among other journals, in The Times and The Independent and Bella. She was involved as consultant and writer for The White Cliffs’ Experience sponsored by Dover Council to encourage tourism and, with researcher, Sally Evemy, has formed The Word Team, aimed at presenting history, written or audio-visual, in human, evocative fashion.
They worked on The Pride Of Jersey and their further joint venture, Rochester Upon Medway; The Tale Of A City, attracted great interest and sold well. They have also prepared Colourful Characters from Southwark Past, with the backing of the local authority.
Shirley Harrison’s important work of biography, SYLVIA PANKHURST – A CRUSADING LIFE originally published by Aurum Press – was reissued with a new introduction by Dr Richard Pankhurst, under the revised title SYLVIA PANKHURST: THE REBELLIOUS SUFFRAGETTE, by Golden Guides Press Spring 2012.