Barbara Taylor Bradford
BTB Fact Sheet
A WOMAN OF INFLUENCE
Born in Upper Armley, Leeds, in Yorkshire, Barbara was the only child of Winston and Freda Taylor. Ask the internationally renowned best-selling author who influenced her the most throughout her childhood, and she will unhesitatingly tell you it was her mother. Freda Taylor was a former children's nurse and nanny -- and a voracious reader who introduced Barbara to books at the tender age of 4. By the time she was 12, she had read all of Dickens and the Brontes. Seeds for the future were sown.
After attending Christ Church Elementary School and Northcote Private School for Girls, Barbara Taylor Bradford started work as a typist for the Yorkshire Evening Post. She was 15 1/2. 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. Today Barbara Taylor Bradford is published in over 90 countries in 40 languages, with sales figures in excess of 82 million.
IT ALL STARTED WITH A BLIND DATE
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 twelve 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.
DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE
Barbara Taylor Bradford has, to date, written 25 novels -- each of which has been dedicated to "Bob." Both workaholics and unrepentant romantics, Barbara and Bob celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2003 and remain as dedicated to one another as they were when they first met. "I refer to him as the General," she says, "and he calls me Napoleon!" Robert produces all of her mini-series and films, structures her contracts and spearheads all of the activities of the industry that is Barbara Taylor Bradford.
In 1990, the child who disappointed her parents by going to work on a newspaper instead of pursuing a higher education received a Degree of Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa from the Chancellor of Leeds University. Barbara Taylor Bradford received the award from HRH the Duchess of Kent. The Brotherton Library of Leeds University became the keeper of the Barbara Taylor Bradford archive in 1988, and the archive is part of the world-renowned Brotherton Collection. Barbara Taylor Braford's manuscripts are housed in glass-fronted cases, next to those of the Bronte sisters, who wrote such classics as "Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre."
In 1995 Barbara received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bradford and, the following year, another Honorary Doctorate from the Teikyo Post University in Connecticut. In 2005 she received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Sienna College in New York.
Other awards include the Matrix Award in books from New York Women in Communications Inc. (1985), the American Society of Interior Designers' "Editorial Award for Writing Excellence" (1985), the Special Jury Prize for Body of Literature from the Deauville Festival of American Film (1994), the Birmingham-Southern College "Gala 12" Woman of the Year Award (1995), City of Hope's "Spirit of Life Award" and the establishment of the "Barbara Taylor Bradford Research Fellowship in Pediatric Leukemia" (1995), the Girls Inc. "She Knows Where She's Going Award" (1995), the PAL "Police Athletic League Women of the Year Award" (1995), Albert Einstein College of Medicine's "Spirit of Achievement Award" (1996), the Five Towns Music and Art Foundation's "Award of Achievement" for outstanding accomplishments in the field of Literature (1997), and the British Excellence Award given aboard the QE2 (1998).
Barbara was inducted into the Matrix Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2003, she was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America, joining the ranks of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Dr. Seuss and Langston Hughes. In June of 2007, Barbara was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to Literature. Barbara received her medal from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. In May of 2010, Barbara and Bob were honored by Literacy Partners at their annual gala dinner for their philanthropy in raising critical funds for disadvantaged New Yorkers.
BARBARA TAKES TIME TO CARE
In addition to her hectic writing schedule, she also manages to serve on the board of PAL, the Police Athletic League, a charity for underprivileged children. She is a member of the Author's Guild of America Council and is on the board of PACT, Parents & Abducted Children Together, as well as Literacy Partners. Barbara is also involved in several charities including City-Meals-On-Wheels and The Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation. She was an ambassador for the March of Dimes in 1999 while on the road promoting her novel A Sudden Change Of Heart. Barbara is a supporter of Arts and Letters through Literacy Partners of New York City and The New York Pops.
I HAPPEN TO LIKE NEW YORK
Barbara loves her adopted homeland and, in particular, New York. In a landmark building in Manhattan, overlooking the East River, she and Bob live with their two Bichon Frises dogs, Beaji and Chammi, who sit under Barbara's desk while she writes, as did their predecessor, Gemmy. The view is spectacular but Barbara rarely gets to enjoy it spending as she does up to eight hours a day, five days a week, writing and staring at a blank wall. When she has time, she prepares special dishes from her native Yorkshire -- such as chicken-in-the-pot and cottage pie -- for informal dinners for close friends. Their apartment boasts possessions that reflect tastes both passionate and personal, collections of Art Deco antiques and Biedermeier furniture, teapots (one of which was given as a wedding present to her parents in the '20s), contemporary Impressionist paintings, and Winston Churchill memorabilia -- including a letter to her by Clementine Churchill when she was 10. One of Barbara's prized possessions is "Susie," a doll she was given when she was one year old!
READ THE BOOKS, SEE THE MOVIE!
In recent years, an astounding ten of Barbara Taylor Bradford's twenty-five novels have been made into television mini-series. They are: A Woman of Substance, Voice of the Heart, Act of Will, Hold the Dream, To Be the Best, Remember, Everything to Gain, Love in Another Town, Her Own Rules and A Secret Affair. The acting talents who have graced these works are indeed impressive and reflect the integrity of the original published works. They include Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir John Mills, Jenny Seagrove, Gayle Hunnicut, Liam Neeson, Deborah Kerr, James Brolin, Miranda Richardson, Claire Bloom, Ian Richardson, Nigel Havers, Nicola Pagett, Lindsay Wagner, Elizabeth Hurley, Donna Mills, Stephen Collins, Victoria Principal, Samantha Eggar, Jean Simmons, Melissa Gilbert, Leigh Lawson, Charles Shaughnessy, Jack Scalia, Sean Young and Janine Turner.
In 1996, another of Barbara's novels was dramatized for BBC Radio with an all-star cast including Robin Ellis, Dorothy Tutin, Siam Phillips, Emma Fielding and Nicola Pagett. Her latest film A Secret Affair, based on her novel and shot on locations in Venice and Ireland, aired on the CBS Television network on October 27, 1999. Where You Belong is now in development as a television movie for the CBS television network.
Photo Credits, top to bottom: