It is no secret that happiness was spread a bit thinly in Claire Rayner's far from easy childhood. She was born in Stepney, East London, in the early thirties during the Depression and was evacuated during the war. She chose nursing as a career, lying about her age in order to enrol as a cadet in the Epsom Cottage Hospital in Surrey, after which she studied at the Royal Northern, winning their gold medal for achievement. Thus began a lifetime's passion for proper medical care for all, a passion that has made her one of Britain's most important and successful campaigners. She is a patron of more than sixty social and charitable organisations.But it is as advice columnist extraordinaire that she is most famous. A career that began in 1963 on Hers magazine was followed by columns in The Sun and later the Sunday Mirror. At one point she was receiving 1000 letters a week. Working from home, with six secretaries, she read ever single letter that came to her.