Comedian revealed to be secret romance author

Updated: 

Les Dawson

We all have secret ambitions. While we may appear to be mild-mannered bean counters and paper pushers, in our hearts we know we are secretly destined to be footballers, film stars and internationally renowned physicists.

And it appears that the rich and famous aren't immune to this either: one comedian's drive to become a romantic novelist has been revealed.

Unlikely

The unlikely candidate to become the next Barbara Taylor Bradford was Lancashire comedian Les Dawson. His family told the BBC that he had written 110 pages of a supernatural romantic thriller, an Echo of the Shadows, before his death in 1993.

The family found the manuscript when they were moving house, and said it was set during the American Civil War when a Union soldier discovers captured Confederate gold, brings it home and is cursed by it.

His family said that writing was Dawson's first love. He wrote other novels including Come Back With the Wind and The Blade and the Passion. However, he was told by his publisher that if he wanted to write romantic fiction, he would need to do so under an assumed name. He chose Maria Brett-Cooper.

The Guardian has printed an extract from the manuscript: "As the dark bars of dusk fingered the sky, Janine excused herself shyly and whispered that she was going to prepare for bed, and she blushed fiercely. Caldwell merely smiled as he poured out yet another whiskey and water, and stood and held his glass towards her. 'I won't be long my dear. Just one cigar, hey?"

Second careers

And he's not the only celebrity with a shock second career. Here are ten of our favourites:

1. Tom Selleck may be best known for his acting - and his moustache - but in his spare time he's also the owner of a 63-acre avocado farm in California - which he plants and harvests every year.

2. Moby may be best-known for his electronic dance music, but he's also the owner of teaNY, a tea shop in New York, with a great line in vegan and vegetarian burgers and baguettes.

3. Bono may look as if he has his work cut out saving the planet, but he also had time to buy The Clarence hotel in Dublin (which U2 hung out in during their youth but which had fallen into a state of disrepair) and transform it into a swanky boutique hotel.

4. Kiefer Sutherland, meanwhile, owns his own record label, Ironworks Music, which is dedicated to helping young artists. He is an amateur musician, but has always stressed that he never intends to record anything himself.

5. Rapper Akon owns a diamond mine in South Africa. He also wears some of the gems unearthed in his mine.

6. Drew Barrymore has launched her own Barrymore Pinot Grigio - after spending two years visiting a vineyard in Italy to perfect the wine. The 2011 vintage was awarded a gold medal in the prestigious French Le Challenge International du Vin.

7. Nick Offerman, the actor who plays Ron Swanson in 'Parks and Recreation' is also the owner of Offerman Wood Shop, which sells the fruits of his labours - including everything from tables to mustachio combs.

8. Jeff Goldblum may be best-known for his acting, but he's also a jazz pianist. In quieter times he plays concerts around LA with a jazz band called Mildred Spitzer Orchestra.

9. Jessica Alba may have made her name as an actress, but she has now launched The Honest Company, selling organic baby products. However, all of this comes second to her most important job. She says on her company's website: "Being a mom is the most profound experience I've ever had."

10. Brian Cox. No list of second careers could end without him. Who else could go from being the keyboard player in D:ream to Britain's most famous scientist - with an OBE for his services to science?

Celebrities with unusual business interests

Celebrities with unusual business interests