Cartland, Barbara (1901–2000)

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Cartland, Barbara (1901–2000)

British popular novelist. Name variations: Dame Barbara Cartland; Barbara McCorquodale. Born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England, on July 9, 1901; died in Hertfordshire, England, on May 21, 2000; daughter of Bertram Cartland (a major in the Worcestershire regiment) and Polly (Scobell) Cartland; attended Malvern Girls' College and Abbey House, Netley Abbey, Hampshire, England; married Alexander George McCorquodale, in 1927 (divorced 1933); married Hugh McCorquodale, on December 28, 1936 (died, December 29, 1963); children: (first marriage) Raine McCorquodale (who upon marriage became Countess Spencer and the stepmother of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales ); (second marriage) Ian and Glen.


Gold Medal of the City of Paris for Achievement (1988), for selling 25 million books in France; Dame of the Order of the British Empire (1991).

Destined to see over 600 million copies of her novels in print, Barbara Cartland began her career writing for the Daily Express as a gossip columnist. After publication of her first novel, Jigsaw, in 1925, Cartland went on to become a prolific author of romance novels who brought readers stories of fairy-tale love set against 19th-century backdrops. Though her plots have been called repetitive and highly unrealistic by detractors, the popularity of her work is undeniable, a fact attested to by her citation in the Guinness Book of World Records as the bestselling author in the world.

In addition to her romantic fiction—works like The Ruthless Rake (1975), The Penniless Peer (1976) and The Cruel Count (1976)—Cartland published several volumes of autobiography, including We Danced All Night 1919–1929 (1971) and I Search for Rainbows (1967). She also authored fictionalized historical biographies, including The Private Life of Elizabeth Empress of Austria (1959), The Private Life of Charles II: The Women He Loved (1958), and Josephine, Empress of France (1961). Her advice books, which espouse ideas about the "inferior" social role of women as well as ideas on women's infidelity, have met with controversy. Among these works are Love, Life and Sex (1957), The Etiquette Book (1962), Look Lovely, Be Lovely (1958) and Barbara Cartland's Book of Beauty and Health (1971).

Known to write an average of 23 books a year, Cartland traveled the world searching for exotic settings for her stories. She lent her voice to a number of charitable causes and to England's Conservative Party. In 1991, she was created Dame of the British Empire.

suggested reading:

Cartland, Barbara. I Reach for the Stars: An Autobiography. Parkwest, 1995.