Mrs Beech


“When I wrote Goodnight Mister Tom I knew a lot more about William’s mother than I revealed in the book. I didn’t write more about her because it was Tom Oakley and Willie Beech’s story.

Some years after it was published, I was working on the musical with the composer Gary Carpenter and I felt that I needed to write the lyrics for two songs to show not only how disturbed and frightened she was but also to reveal her broken childhood and what led her to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, as the musical was being performed there was talk of a TV adaptation and I was introduced to the screenwriter Brian Finch. After it was given the go ahead I brought up the subject of Mrs Beech. I knew he would need to write scenes for her and I didn’t want her portrayed as evil even though her actions were abusive. And I told him about the songs.

‘Send them to me,’ he said.

In schools I have heard that some teachers only read extracts from Goodnight Mister Tom because the scenes with William and his mother are too upsetting. To be honest I have always felt that the story is more suitable for secondary school children but I also understand that a teacher knows her/his pupils and students better than I do and is in a much better position to decide whether to read the book to them or not. Lately however, I have received letters from children who are upset by Mrs Beech’s behaviour and don’t understand why she is so cruel. To help explain her state of mind I have on some occasions sent their teacher a copy of the libretto so that she/he can decide whether to share the lyrics with their class or not.

In case there are other teachers or older students who would like to obtain a copy of the libretto it can be bought through this website or by clicking on the image above.”


This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Kesar

    Hello Michelle Magorian,
    Last term our year 6 class read your book and coming from England made your book even more interesting! What an amazing author you are! I know that your a most probably busy however I am sure that everyone around the world would like to know what happen next in these interesting charcters life. Out of all the books i have read in my life your book really inspired me to read more and pursue writing as a possible career. Thank you very much for your time!

    Kesar 11 years old

    1. Heather

      Hi Kesar! We are so pleased you were so inspired by Michelle’s book. Good luck with your writing and thank you so much for taking the trouble to leave a comment.

  2. Chloe Dunphy

    Dear Michelle Magorian
    I am 11 years old in an international middle school in Paris my name is Chloe and I love your book although I have one question in your book it says that Mrs beech takes « night shifts « but to where? To her job? What job? I understand you are very busy thank you in advance for reading my question

    1. Heather

      Dear Chloe,
      I do apologise for taking so long to reply to your email. You asked me about Mrs Beech’s night shifts. I’m afraid she hardly knows what jobs she is doing because she is so ill, mentally, and that makes her very confused and frightened. Unfortunately, she has no one to turn to for help which is why she takes her own life by walking into the sea.
      If your teacher would like to ask me more questions, she can do so by sending an email to Safae El-Ouahabi at the RCW Literary Agency. Her email address is:
      I hope you are enjoying your time in Paris. I used to be a Mime student there. All our lessons were in French. Luckily, I was living with a French family, which meant that later I was able to teach my younger son French. We were asked by the head of the Mime school, a man called Marcel Marceau to watch very funny, silent films in the small cinemas there. When I took my sons to Paris, they loved it there. We still occasionally watch French films. I hope you will have the opportunity to visit other parts of France while you are there.
      Did you know that there is a DVD of Goodnight Mister Tom (Bonne Nuit, Monsieur Tom ) which has been dubbed in French? It is also on You Tube. You can even watch a trailer of it on the internet.
      Keep reading!
      All good wishes,

  3. Pierson Downey

    Hi, my names Pierson and I am in the same position as Gina (kind of). I am in Grade 8 and i have to write a diary entry as one of the characters in the book to another character and i choose Mrs Beech writing to Mr Tom. Also it has to have a time of writing so i choose nearly just before Willie’s first birthday in the country. I was hoping really badly that you can help me out. Also i do love the book, it’s so good.

    Thanks in advance,
    Pierson Downey

    1. Web Designer

      Dear Pierson
      As you can probably realise, Michelle is very busy and can’t answer emails from her website. We’re so glad you’ve enjoyed Goodnight Mister Tom and hope you were successful with your assignment.
      Best wishes
      Website administrator.

  4. Gina Scarratt

    Dear Michelle,

    I am a Year 6 primary school teacher and LOVE using your novel ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ to discuss issues around evacuation. We tend to focus primarily on the characters of Tom Oakley and Willie Beech. This year the children are going to be writing diary entries from both characters point of view. Is there anywhere we could send or upload their diaries as it would really spur them on if they were writing for you?

    Best Wishes,
    Gina Scarratt

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