AUTHOR and newspaper columnist Dorothy Whalley is making her own headlines, now she is thought to be among the country's oldest writers.

For at 96 she is still a prolific writer - and coping with the high-tech world, initially writing her articles in long-hand before putting them into her computer.

While Dorothy, who writes under her maiden name of Dorothy Cowlin, has been writing for the Gazette & Herald for more than 30 years, her career started some 75 years ago, though it was at school where she enjoyed her first success, writing the school magazine.

She made her name writing for such magazines as The Dalesman, Yorkshire Life and Yorkshire Ridings, recalling her own life experiences, growing up in the Lincolnshire town of Grantham, and then becoming a teacher in Stockport, before moving with her husband to Thornton-le-Dale when he became a teacher at the village school.

Over the years she has interviewed many hundreds of people in the North Yorkshire and Wolds countryside, as they re-lived their own lives and local history, while Dorothy made careful notes.

She achieved her ambition as a young writer - to become a novelist, penning eight books, and successfully winning the interest of the prestigious publishers, Jonathan Cape.

"They were romantic but not sentimental, and I used the countryside for much of the background," said Dorothy. But the genre of the novel changed with the publication of the now 1960s classic, Look Back in Anger. "It brought about change in the world of novel writing," she added.

Dorothy bought her first typewriter when she started teaching, paying £6 a month and it was to be a vital tool of her craft for many years.

A prominent local poet - an interest she started at the age of seven - she has written three books of her works, and is a member of the Rye Writers' Group where she exchanges ideas and advice with fellow local writers, and also of the Workers' Educational Association branch in Pickering.

While she has hundreds of articles to her credit, as well as her books, Dorothy still regrets that she never became a full-time newspaper journalist. "I would have loved the job, but I hope I have given some pleasure to those who read my columns. I write very personally, and my latest article was on getting old, but I've no plans to retire!"