Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE

Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE was born and raised in England. She left school at 15 for the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post. At 16 she was a reporter, and at 18 she became the paper’s first woman’s page editor. Two years later, aged 20, she moved to London and became a fashion editor and columnist on Fleet Street.

Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE was born and raised in England. She left school at 15 for the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post. At 16 she was a reporter, and at 18 she became the paper’s first woman’s page editor. Two years later, aged 20, she moved to London and became a fashion editor and columnist on Fleet Street.

Barbara started writing fiction when she was just seven-years-old and sold her first short story to a magazine for seven shillings and sixpence when she was 10-years-old.

She published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979. It went from bestseller to super seller within its first year and stayed on the New York Times’ list for 43 weeks.

Barbara has had 40 books published, all worldwide bestsellers, and her latest book, The Wonder of It All, was published in the UK in November 2023 and the US in December 2023.

Ten of her books have been produced as TV films or drama series by Robert Bradford, starring actors including Liam Neeson, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jenny Seagrove, Deborah Kerr, Sir John Mills, Lindsay Wagner and Elizabeth Hurley. Robert Bradford managed Barbara’s career, made publishing deals, and created innovative marketing ideas for her novels for 43 years until his death in 2019.

• Ninety (90) million copies of her books have been sold to date. They are published in over 40 languages and in more than 90 countries.

• In October 2007, Barbara was appointed an OBE by The Queen for her services to literature.

• Barbara holds five Honorary Doctorate of Letters. These are from the University of Leeds, Yorkshire; the University of Bradford, Yorkshire; Teikyo Post University, Connecticut; Siena College, Loudonville, New York; and Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, New York.

• Barbara is the recipient of 25 other awards for her writing achievements and philanthropy. In 2008, she was awarded the St George Society of New York: Medal of Honor 2008. Barbara was the first woman to ever receive it. The award recognises those who have rendered exemplary service to British interests and the international community at large. Other awards include Woman of the Year by British Schools and Universities of New York 2010, and The Lizzie Award from Literacy Partners 2015.

• In 2014, Barbara became an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, an independent UK charity that transforms lives through literacy and is passionate about empowering girls to write and let their voices be heard through their stories.

One in six adults in England has very poor literacy skills. This affects every aspect of their life: their job, their relationships, their health and even their life expectancy. By improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of those who need support, the National Literacy Trust offers a route out of poverty and transforms their future.

• In 2015, Barbara in partnership with HarperCollins and The Sunday Times launched The Write Stuff, a UK competition to help discover the next generation of young female writers. The Write Stuff also ran in 2017 with Barbara being the co-chair of judging and actively involved in the competition.

• The Brotherton Library of Leeds University is the Keeper of the Barbara Taylor Bradford Archive. All of Barbara’s original manuscripts are housed there (39 works of fiction), spanning 40 years of work. It sits alongside those of Yorkshire’s other legendary writers including the Bronte sisters.

• In 2016 Barbara was recognised as one of 90 Great Britons to be celebrated as part of a major portrait to mark Her Majesty’s The Queen’s 90th birthday.

• Barbara serves on several Board of Directors including Literacy Partners US, The Police Athletic League and Reporters Without Borders.

• In 2019 Barbara was made the first-ever Ambassador for Women in Journalism and will raise the profile of the organisation and promote it on both sides of the Atlantic. She is also currently mentoring two journalists.

• Barbara also received The Leeds Award in November 2019, a prestigious award that acknowledges her dedication to her hometown of Leeds, which features so prominently in many of her novels, and her promotion of Leeds internationally. Recipients of the Leeds Award have their names inscribed on the ‘wall of fame’ located in the Ante Chamber of the Civic Hall in Leeds.

• In 2021, Barbara was made a patron of The Leeds Library, the oldest membership subscription library in the country. To mark her role as patron, the Leeds Library will set up an annual lecture in the name of Barbara that will coincide with International Women’s Day, as well as an annual literary prize that will aim to champion women’s writing both regionally and nationally. The Library, which was founded in 1768, has a collection of over 140,000 items and is a much-loved cultural institution of Leeds.

• Described as the “grand dame of blockbusters”, and “Queen of the genre”, Barbara’s amazing success has made her one of the most successful writers in Britain today.

A Woman of Substance: a worldwide bestseller
A Woman of Substance is ranked in the top ten bestselling works of fiction of all time with more than 30 million copies sold.

• The book tells the story of Emma Harte and the machinations and intrigue of a family retail empire. It is the first of seven novels following the trials and tribulations of the Harte family.

• It was first published in 1979.

• The original manuscript took two years to write, weighed 16.5 lbs and ran to 1,520 pages.

Barbara-Taylor-Bradford-Book-Cover-USA-A-Woman-Of-Substance

A Woman of Substance: a worldwide bestseller

  • A Woman of Substance is ranked in the top ten bestselling works of fiction of all time with more than 32 million copies sold.
  • The book tells the story of Emma Harte and the machinations and intrigue of a family retail empire. It is the first of seven novels following the trials and tribulations of the Harte family.
  • It was first published in 1979.
  • The original manuscript took two years to write, weighed 16.5 lbs and ran to 1,520 pages.
  • Barbara describes the leading character of her novel, Emma Harte, as a woman who was strong, independent, driven, ambitious, courageous – willing to go out and put herself on the line and do something. I created a woman who wanted to conquer the world.

“An extravagant, absorbing novel of love, courage, ambition, war, death and passion.”
– New York Times

“A mighty saga. Little has been so riveting since Good With the Wind.”
– Evening News

“A long, satisfying novel of money, power, passion and revenge, set against the sweep of 20th century history.”
– Los Angeles Times

Barbara Taylor Bradford at 17

After attending Christ Church Elementary School and Northcote Private School for Girls, Barbara Taylor started work as a typist for the Yorkshire Evening Post.

She was aged 15. Within six months she was promoted to cub reporter in the newsroom. “It was because I was such a bad typist and was ruining so much of their expensive paper!” she joked. Nevertheless, at 18 she became the newspaper’s Woman’s Page Editor.

At age 20 she decided to head for London, where she became Fashion Editor of the magazine Woman’s Own. In the ensuing years in Fleet Street, hub of Britain’s publishing empire, she covered every beat from crime to show business reporting for the London Evening News, Today Magazine and other publications. The grounding paid off.

Barbara and Robert Bradford

1961 was a significant year for Barbara Taylor, a journalist who felt destined to become “a hard-bitten reporter in a dirty trenchcoat.” On a blind date she met her husband-to-be, American film producer Robert Bradford, and fell in love at first sight. In 1963 they married and Barbara moved to the USA. She carried on her journalistic career writing a syndicated column, Designing Woman, covering interior design and lifestyles, which appeared three times a week in 183 newspapers across America. The column was published for 12 years and garnered several awards.

Children’s books followed, plus eight books on decorating; however, Barbara never lost her desire to write fiction, and despite several failed attempts, the turning point came in 1976 when she sold A Woman of Substance to a publisher on the strength of a ten-page outline and 192 pages. The rest, as they say, is history.

Barbara Taylor Bradford has, to date, written 34 novels – each of which has been dedicated to her beloved Bob. Both workaholics and unrepentant romantics, Barbara and Bob were married for 55 years and were as dedicated to one another as they were when they first met. “I referred to him as the General,” she said, “and he called me Napoleon!” While Barbara wrote, Bob took care of her literary interests and business.

He also produced ten of Barbara’s books in to television mini-series or movies. After the publication in 1979 of her worldwide bestseller A Woman of Substance, which like all her books was dedicated to her beloved husband, Bob supervised the 1985 television mini-series of the book which starred Jenny Seagrove and Deborah Kerr. The series was watched in the UK by 13.8 million people, as well as broadcast around the world, and was nominated for two Emmys.

Barbara Taylor Bradford

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