Barbara Taylor Bradford

Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE (born 10 May 1933) is a best-selling British-American novelist. Her debut novel, A Woman of Substance, was published in 1979 and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.[2] To date, she has written 39 novels—all bestsellers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Barbara Taylor Bradford

Barbara Taylor

(1933-05-10) 10 May 1933 (age 89)
Leeds, Yorkshire, England
Robert E. Bradford
(m. 1963; d. 2019)
Parent(s)Winston and Freda Taylor


Barbara Taylor was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England[3] to Freda and Winston Taylor.[4] Before her birth, her parents had a son, Vivian, who died of meningitis. She would later describe her mother as having "put all her frustrated love into me."[5] Winston Taylor was an engineer who had lost a leg serving in the First World War.[4]

She would later fictionalise her parents' marriage in her 1986 novel, An Act of Will.[4] She and fellow Yorkshire writer Alan Bennett attended the same nursery school in the Leeds suburb of Upper Armley.[4] As a child during the Second World War, Taylor Bradford held a jumble sale at her school and donated the £2 proceeds to the 'Aid to Russia' fund. She later received a handwritten thank-you letter from Clementine Churchill, the wife of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.[6]

Barbara Taylor Bradford's biographer, Piers Dudgeon, uncovered evidence that her mother, Freda, was the illegitimate daughter of Frederick Robinson, 2nd Marquess of Ripon, a local Yorkshire aristocrat.[4] Freda's mother had been a servant of the Marquess. Dudgeon informed his biographee that her grandmother had had three children by the Marquess, and after some hesitation, she allowed Dudgeon to publish the book.[4]

Although initially angry at Dudgeon's discovery, she later said that "I came round. There's no stigma now."[4] Taylor Bradford's grandmother would later spend time in a workhouse.[4] She herself would later explore the workhouses of her ancestors in the ITV television series, Secrets of the Workhouse which broadcast in 2013.[7]

Barbara Taylor met her husband, American film producer Robert Bradford, on a blind date in 1961 after being introduced by the English screenwriter Jack Davies.[4][8] They married on Christmas Eve in 1963, and the couple moved permanently to the United States. She has been an American citizen since 1992.[9] Barbara lives in Manhattan in New York City.[4] Her husband died in 2019 and the couple had no children.[5]

Young Barbara Taylor decided to be a writer at the age of ten after she sent a story to a magazine.[4] She was paid seven 7s 6d for the story, with which she bought handkerchiefs and a green vase for her parents.[4] Taylor Bradford left school at 15, and after a spell in the typing pool of the Yorkshire Evening Post, she became a reporter for the newspaper.[4] As a reporter at the Post, Taylor Bradford sat alongside Keith Waterhouse.[4] She moved to London at the age of 20 and would become fashion editor of Woman's Own magazine, and would later work as a columnist on the London Evening News. She later had a column on interior decoration that was syndicated to 183 newspapers.[4] Her first efforts at fiction writing were with four suspense novels, which she later abandoned.[4] She would subsequently describe "interviewing herself", saying that "I was in my late thirties. I thought: what if I get to 55, and I've never written a novel? I'm going to hate myself. I'm going to be one of those bitter, unfulfilled writers."[4]

In December 2013, Bradford auctioned forty pieces of jewellery that had been given to her by her husband at Bonhams in London.[10] Taylor Bradford donated the money raised from the auction of her jewellery to two relatives in England.[citation needed]

Bradford has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Leeds University, the University of Bradford, Mount St. Mary's College, Sienna College and Post University in Connecticut.[4][9] Taylor Bradford was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list for her contributions to literature. Her original manuscripts are archived at Special Collections in the Brotherton Library at Leeds University beside those of the Brontë sisters.[11][9] In 2017, Bradford was recognised as one of 90 "Great Britons" to commemorate The Queen's 90th birthday.

In her youth, she read Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy, and Colette.[12] She considers Irish historian and author Cornelius Ryan as a literary mentor. Ryan encouraged her writing and was the first person (other than her mother) to whom she had confided her literary ambitions.[13] Her favourite contemporary authors are P. D. James, Bernard Cornwell and Ruth Rendell.[6]

Her wealth has been estimated at between £166–174 million.[14] Her wealth has fed two persistent rumours, that she owns 2,000 pairs of shoes,[4][15] and that the lake in her former house in Connecticut was heated for the benefit of her swans.[14] Taylor Bradford addressed the rumours in a 2011 interview, tracing the shoes rumour to a joke, and the heated lake to the fact that the previous owners of the house had installed it on part of the lake to provide an ice-free area for a pair of swans in winter.[16]

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1990 when she was surprised by Michael Aspel at Heathrow Airport.[citation needed]

Writing careerEdit

Her first novel, A Woman of Substance, became an enduring best-seller and according to Reuters, it ranks as one of the top-ten best-selling novels of all time.[17] A Woman of Substance has been followed by 38 others—all best-sellers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Bradford's books have sold more than 92 million copies worldwide in more than 90 countries and 40 languages. Ten of her books have been made into television mini-series and television movies, produced by her husband, Robert Bradford.[citation needed]

Recurring plotlines and common themesEdit

Some of Bradford's novels follow a common pattern. A young woman of humble background rises in business through years of hard work, often involving enormous self-sacrifice. As Bradford is often quoted: "I write about mostly ordinary women who go on to achieve the extraordinary."[18]


Five of her television adaptations were re-released on DVD in the UK in September 2008 by Acorn Media UK. These are A Woman of Substance; Hold The Dream; To Be The Best; Act of Will and Voice of the Heart. A Woman of Substance, Hold The Dream and To Be The Best were reissued on DVD by Acorn Media in the US in May 2012. Act of Will and Voice of the Heart remain available on DVD in the US through Infinity Video.

Selected worksEdit


The Emma Harte Saga
  • A Woman of Substance (1979)
  • Hold the Dream (1985)
  • To Be the Best (1988)
  • Emma's Secret (2003)
  • Unexpected Blessings (2005)
  • Just Rewards (2005)
  • Breaking the Rules (2009)
  • A Man of Honour (2021)
The Ravenscar Trilogy
  • The Ravenscar Dynasty (2006)
  • Heirs of Ravenscar (2007) (published as The Heir in U.S.)
  • Being Elizabeth (2008)
The Cavendon Chronicles
  • Cavendon Hall (2014)
  • The Cavendon Women (2015)
  • The Cavendon Luck (2016)
  • Secrets of Cavendon (2017)

The House of Falconer Series

  • Master of His Fate (2018)
  • In the Lion's Den (2020)
Other fiction
  • Act of Will (1986)
  • The Women in His Life (1990)
  • Remember (1991)
  • Angel (1993)
  • Voice of the Heart (1983)
  • Everything to Gain (1994)
  • Dangerous to Know (1995)
  • Love in Another Town (1995)
  • Her Own Rules (1996)
  • A Secret Affair (1996)
  • Power of a Woman (1997)
  • A Sudden Change of Heart (1999)
  • Where You Belong (2000)
  • The Triumph of Katie Byrne (2001) (NL, De wereld aan haar voeten)
  • Three Weeks in Paris (2002)
  • Playing the Game (2010) (NL, Liefdesspel)
  • Letter From a Stranger (2011) (NL, De geheime brief)
  • Secrets From the Past (2013)
  • Hidden (eBook Only) (2013)
  • Treacherous (eBook Only) (2014)
  • Who Are You? (eBook Only) (2016)
  • Damaged (eBook Only) (2018)


  • A Garland of Children's Verse (1960)
  • The Dictionary of 1001 Famous People: Outstanding Personages in the World of Science, the Arts, Music and Literature (with Samuel Nisenson, 1966)
  • Etiquette to Please Him (How to be the Perfect Wife Series) (1969)
  • Bradford's Living Romantically Every Day (2002)
Interior design
  • The Complete Encyclopedia of Homemaking Ideas (1968)
  • Easy Steps to Successful Decorating (Illustrated) (1971)
  • How to Solve Your Decorating Problems (1976)
  • Making Space Grow (1979)
  • Luxury Designs for Apartment Living (1983)
Christian books
  • Children's Stories of Jesus from the New Testament (1966)
  • Children's Stories of the Bible from the Old Testament (1966)
  • Children's Stories of the Bible from the Old and New Testaments (1968)


  1. ^ Greg Evans (5 July 2019). "Robert E. Bradford Dies: Film & TV Producer, Husband of Novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford Was 92". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Barbara Taylor Bradford". HARDtalk. BBC News. 23 September 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  3. ^ Barbara Taylor Birth Index. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916–2005 database on-line. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Rachel Cooke (8 October 2006). "You can never be too rich". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  5. ^ a b Angela Wintle (15 March 2013). "My Family Values – Barbara Taylor Bradford". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  6. ^ a b Jessica Slater (22 October 2009). "The World of Barbara Taylor Bradford". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  7. ^ Ben Dowell (17 June 2013). "Barbara Taylor Bradford: Fifty Shades of Grey is "not even sexy"". The Radio Times. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  8. ^ Barbara Taylor Bradford (22 December 2013). "Barbara Taylor Bradford: my golden husband". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  9. ^ a b c "Barbara's Biography". Random House. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Bonhams Presents Selected Jewels from the Collection of Barbara Taylor Bradford". Bonhams. December 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Barbara Taylor Bradford Archive". Special Collections. Leeds University Library. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Booky Ramblings Interviews Barbara Taylor Bradford". Blogspot. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  13. ^ Sophie Morris (25 September 2006). "My Mentor: Barbara Taylor Bradford on Cornelius Ryan". The Independent. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  14. ^ a b Daunta Kean (26 September 2010). "Sapphires and steel: The glittering life of global bestseller Barbara Taylor Bradford". The Independent. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  15. ^ Marianne Macdonald (20 July 1997). "The BTB Effect". The Independent. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  16. ^ Katie Jarvis (11 October 2011). "Cotswold Character: Barbara Taylor Bradford". Cotswold Life. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  17. ^ Belinda Goldsmith (9 January 2007). "Author Bradford attributes success to stamina". Reuters. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  18. ^ Roy, Amit (22 November 2019). "Prequel to A Woman of Substance". Retrieved 11 March 2020.

External linksEdit