Alrene Hughes is a British novelist of historical romance. She is most known for her WW2 Belfast trilogy Martha's Girls series (2012–2016).
Alrene Hughes was born in Enniskillen, grew up in Belfast, and now lives in Manchester, where she moved as a teenager. Hughes was an English teacher for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer.
Her first novel, Martha's Girls (2012), was inspired by a family scrapbook of concert programs and newspaper cuttings about The Golden Sisters — her mother and aunts.
Her second book, The Golden Sisters, was published in 2015 and launched at the Northern Ireland War Memorial museum in Belfast.
The final novel in the WW2 trilogy, A Song in my Heart, was published in 2016. All the books were fiction but were based on her family during World War II.
These were followed by two historical novels set in Manchester.
In the Girl in the Pink Raincoat (2018), a factory girl and a Jewish businessman fall in love against the backdrop of the outbreak of World War II.
Her second Manchester novel, The Girl from the Corner Shop (2019), is a family saga that focuses on a young married woman who has led a sheltered life, but when her husband is killed in the blitz, she has to face both grief and the need to earn a living. The main character Helen goes from living above the family shop to joining the police force.
"My novels are set in either Manchester or Belfast. I have lived in both cities, and I know them well. So, one of the first things I do is to choose a street where the main character lives. Just doing this gives me an insight into the woman’s life. Then there is her place of work, for example, a specific factory, and her social life in dance halls, cinemas, and pubs, all authentic and used to create the atmosphere of WW2," the novelist says.
Alrene Hughes is also a member of the Manchester Irish Writers group.
Photo by Tony Edwards.