AN ACCLAIMED writer from New Brighton has published his first novel at 80 years old, just months after leaving hospital following a frightening battle with Covid-19.

George Skelly began writing The Most Familiar Face in the World back in the early ‘70s and was finally ready to publish this Christmas, but following an admission into hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus, his family “weren’t sure he’d live to see the day” that it hit the shelves.

George’s son, John, tweeted a photo in which he was posing with his father with the caption: “This is my dad in Sept on his 80th. We almost just lost him to Covid. Thanks to the amazing staff at Wirral University Teaching Hospital he pulled through.”

George’s writing exploits have already seen him pen two influential true crime books: The Cameo Conspiracy and Murderers or Martyrs. His research on the former was key in the exoneration of George Kelly, an innocent man who had been hanged 53 years previously for a brutal double murder at the Cameo Cinema in Liverpool.

Educated at Ruskin College, Oxford, and Liverpool University, he had a career in social work before taking early retirement to focus on his passion for researching, writing and righting miscarriages of justice.

George’s first novel, The Most Familiar Face in the World, serves up an uncompromising slice of post-war Liverpool as a backdrop to young protagonist Sheridan.

“Young Sheridan is an exceptional kid in a cruel, confusing world,” said George. “Astute beyond his tender years, but trapped in a hard-knock childhood, amidst the squalor and grit of post-war Liverpool - where the grown-ups make no sense. Brutal yet kind, tragic yet funny, happy yet sad. He feels for them. He feels for everything!”

He added: “Its genesis dates back to the early 1970s, but life, family and other projects led to it spending almost 50 years percolating gently on the backburner.”

n The Most Familiar Face in the World by George Skelly is out to buy now in paperback and is available on Amazon and on e-readers.