Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Town Monday - Dame Barbara Cartland.

Well as this task has been started by a writer I have decided to talk about Dame Barbara Cartland, one of our famous residents and prolific authors. In her life time Dame Barbara wrote over 700 top selling books including some biographies.
Born at 31 Augustus Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, she was the only daughter and eldest child of a British army officer, Major Bertram Cartland (born 1876 died 27 May 1918), and his wife, Mary Polly Hamilton Scobell. Though she was born into an enviable degree of middle-class comfort, the family's security was severely shaken after the suicide of her paternal grandfather, James Cartland, a financier, who shot himself in the wake of bankruptcy.

After a year as a gossip columnist for the Daily Express, Cartland published her first novel, Jigsaw (1923), a slightly naughty society thriller that became a bestseller. She also began writing and producing somewhat racy plays, one of which, Blood Money (1926), was banned by the Lord Chamberlain's Office. In the 1920s and '30s Cartland was one of the leading young hostesses in London society, noted for her beauty, energetic charm and daring parties. Her fashion sense also had a part in launching her fame. She was in fact one of the first clients of designer Sir Norman Hartnell, who was later appointed dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II.
Barbara Cartland's image as a self-appointed "expert" on romance drew some ridicule in her later years, when her social views became more conservative. Indeed, although her first novels were considered sensational, Barbara Cartland's later (and arguably most popular) titles were comparatively tame with virginal heroines and few, if any, suggestive situations. Almost all of Cartland's later books were historical in theme, which allowed for the believability of chastity (at least, to many of her audience).

Despite their tame story lines, Barbara Cartland's later novels were highly successful. By 1983 she rated the longest entry in the British Who's Who (though most of that article was a list of her books), and was named the top-selling author in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. In the mid-1990s, by which time she had sold over a billion books, Vogue magazine called her "the true Queen of Romance". She became a mainstay of the popular media in her trademark pink dresses and plumed hats, discoursing on matters of love, marriage, politics, religion, health and fashion. She was publicly opposed to the removal of prayer from state schools and spoke against infidelity and divorce, although she admitted to being acquainted with both "Sins"
Barbara was married, from 1927 to 1932, to Alexander George McCorquodale, They had a daughter Raine McCorquodale (born in 1929)After the McCorquodales' 1936 divorce, which involved charges and countercharges of infidelity, Cartland married a man her husband had accused her of dallying with — his cousin Hugh McCorquodale, a former military officer. She and her second husband, who died in 1963, had two sons, Ian and Glen McCorquodale.
In 1991, Barbara Cartland was invested by Queen Elizabeth II as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in honor of the author's nearly 70 years of literary, political and social contributions.

Cartland was openly critical of her step-granddaughter Diana, Princess of Wales's divorce from the Prince of Wales, which caused a rift between them, one mended shortly before Diana's fatal car crash in Paris in 1997.
Her physical and mental health began to fail in her mid-90s but her spirit and courage were undiminished, and she remained a favorite with the press, granting interviews to international news agencies even during the final months of her life.
Her last project was to be filmed and interviewed for her life story. At that time,(2000) her publishers estimated that since her writing career began in 1923, Dame Barbara Cartland had produced a total of 723 titles. After years of wearing her trademark anti-wrinkle cream and heavy makeup, she had herself photographed repeatedly without any cosmetics before she died. She was 98 years of age at her death.
Due to her concern for the environment, she requested to be buried in a cardboard coffin. This request was honored and she was buried at her estate in Hatfield under a tree that had been planted by Queen Elizabeth I.
Barbara Cartland was a grand somewhat excentric lady, she cared for her community, she served as a councilor for 9 years, she was passionate about the plight of travellers and she gave part of her land over to them so that their children could have a stable place to live and could educate their children. That site which was named Barbaraville after her is still going strong today.


Travis Erwin said...

Great post. I'll confess I'd never heard of her until now, but she sounds like quite the lady.

Terrie Farley Moran said...


Thanks so much for a fascinating and intimate look at barabar Cartland. I am especially amazed by her interest in the travellers.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Sounds like a full life. Never read her books but certainly have seen them on the shelves.

suzann said...

I love reading about your town and I really love this post about Barbara Cartland. I must have read hundreds of her books in high school. My girlfriends and I just devoured them.

I had no idea she was from your town, so I just really enjoyed reading this!!!!

Debbielou said...

Love this post Lyzzy! x

Kim Marie said...

If not all, I have read most of her 700+ books!! They were my "risky" reading as a teenager!! My attic room was lined!! I'll have to share this site with one of my younger sisters...another fan! what a neat post!
Kim Marie

Barbara Martin said...

Excellent post, Debbielou. I, too, have seen her books on the shelves. Next time I'm at the bookstore I'll check one out.

Barrie said...

Oh, how very interesting. I knew of Barbara Cartland, read a few of her books as a teen. But certainly didn't know all the fun facts you have here!

debra said...

Great post about an interesting person, Lyzzydee! I've never read her books, but I remember her as a definite personality. And all that pink, too.

Alexandra said...

Nice post - I had never heard of her until now! *STAMPIN HUGS* Alex

WordVixen said...

I've heard the name for years, but never knew who she was. Doesn't she sound like someone you'd love to have gotten to know personally?

Manna said...

e never heard of her before today either. Thanks for that! Great writing!

Maureen said...

Yes- this was a great post....I must 'fess that I too read most likely 600+ of those books in my tweens and is too cool that she is from your area...I just love that you do this "my town" is always so interesting and neat!