Barbara Cartland was one of the prominent British authors of the 20th century. After her marriage, she used to write under her married name, Barbara McCorquodale. She has written more than 700 books and it is estimated that above 750 million copies of her books have sold. Her first novel is “Jig-Saw”, a thriller that became a best seller. Her later novels attained popularity despite their moderate story line. She was even named as the top-selling author across the world by the Guinness Book of World Records for writing 23 novels in a single year. One of the main inspirations behind her romantic novels was Edwardian author Elinor Glyn, a pioneer in the mass-market erotic fiction. As she came from an aristocratic society, the background and characters of her novels represent British upper class. The interesting feature of her novels is that all of them have a happy ending. Idealistic love and ideal women play dominant part in all of these novels. She also wrote biographies of several real historical characters like Josephine, Empress of France. She was a popular media personality and used to make appearances on television and public events to discuss issues like love, politics and society. During the period between 1920s and 1930s, she was popular for her beauty, charm and daring parties.
Childhood & Early Life
Barbara Cartland, whose previous name was Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland, was born in Birmingham, England as the eldest child of Major Bertram Cartland, a British army officer, and Mary Hamilton Scobell.
After the death of her father in World War I, her mother opened a dress shop in London to earn livelihood. She grew up with her two brothers whose names were Anthony and Ronald.
She studied at The Alice Ottley School in Worcester. Later, she attended Malvern Girls’ College. She was a student of Abbey House, an educational institution situated in Hampshire.
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After finishing her education, she worked as a society reporter for “The Daily Express” in 1920. She published her first novel “Jig-Saw” in 1922. A risqu� society thriller, it became a bestseller within a short period.
The Lord Chamberline’s office banned her novel “Blood Money” that appeared in 1926. During the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, she acted as the Chief Lady Welfare Officer in Bedfordshire whose job included looking after 20,000 service men and women.
She became the recipient of the Certificate of Merit from Eastern Command. She was invested at Buckingham Palace as a Commander of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1953.
After her election as a councillor on Hertfordshire County Council in 1955, she crusaded for the rights of gypsies. For this purpose, she supported the idea of having a permanent place for them to live. As a result of her strong campaign, an act was passed in Parliament.
In 1964, she opened one of the gypsy camps namely Barbaraville. As a result of this, a number of gypsy families got a place to live and it ensured the education of their children in the local area.
In the same year, she established the National Association for Health in the United Kingdom. She also acted as its President. This organization acts as a front for all the Health Stores and any product used as alternative medicine.
She also campaigned for better condition and salaries for midwives and nurses. For her contribution in this field, she received Dame of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
In 1978, State Records released her album titled ‘An Album of Love Songs’ in which she performed a series of popular standards like ‘I’ll Follow My Secret Heart’ and ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’.
Besides these, she authored a number of biographies of famous historical characters. She also wrote the biography of her brother Ronald Cartland, the first Member of Parliament to be killed in the Second World War.
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She wrote her first novel “Jig-Saw” in 1922. It is a vivid account of the difficulty that a young girl faced on her first entry into the rich society of London. The story describes the journey of this girl from an adventurous life towards peace and happiness.
Awards & Achievements
In 1931, she, along with two Royal Air Force Officers, created the first airplane-towed glider airmail.
For her remarkable contribution in the aviation field, she received the Bishop Wright Air industry Award in the year 1984.
She received the prestigious La Medaille De Vermeil De La Ville De Paris or The Gold Medal of Paris award.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1927, she married Alexander George McCorquodale, a British Army officer from Scotland. They had a daughter namely Raine McCorquodale whom she later claimed as the daughter of Prince George, Duke of Kent.
In 1933, she divorced McCorquodale on charges of infidelity. Later, she married McCorquodale’s cousin Hugh McCorquodale, a former military officer. They had two sons - Ian and Glen McCorquodale.
She suffered from a poor physical and mental condition when in her mid-90s. She still remained busy with giving interviews and making preparations to launch her website.
She died at the age of 98
When her daughter Raine married the 8th Earl Spenser, this multifaceted author became the step grandmother of Lady Diana Spencer who later became Princess of Wales.