Fern Britton has revealed a family secret which inspired her new novel.
The former This Morning presenter discovered that her nan had a secret child who the family did not find out about for decades.
It wasn’t until she was contacted out of the blue by a man claiming to be her mum’s half-brother that she found out the truth.
Letter out of the blue
He sent a letter to Fern when she was just 23.
At the time, she had just started working in television.
Fern revealed to Good Housekeeping magazine: “I had started in TV, working in Plymouth, when I received a letter from a man who had seen me on screen, asking if I was Ruth Britton’s daughter.
“When I wrote back to say that I was, he replied saying ‘I know this sounds extraordinary, but I think I am your mother’s half-brother’.”
It turns out that Fern’s late grandmother, Beryl, had given birth to a baby boy out of wedlock.
It happened before the First World War.
But he had spent years searching for his mother.
She continued: “In secret, Beryl had arranged a private fostering for him and continued to see him, love him, and send whatever money she could spare for his keep.”
“It must have been very difficult, because by then she had married my grandfather, Gerald, and went on to have three children.”
“It seemed awful to find out that she had carried this guilty secret around with her for years”
The bombshell news was huge for Fern to process.
And she admits she struggled to pick the right moment to tell her mum.
But when she did, her mum said ‘I’m not surprised’.
Fern’s mother Ruth revealed that when Beryl was dying, she had told her: “I’ve been a very wicked woman, I have done wicked things.”
“It seemed awful to find out that she had carried this guilty secret around with her for years,” said Fern.
The huge family secret was the inspiration for Fern’s new book.
It is about a woman who has a secret child and called Daughters of Cornwall.
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