Barbara Cartland’s status as a preeminent “prolific pen” is doubtless: she wrote 623 books and sold more than 650 million copies of her novels worldwide in many languages. Even The Guinness Book of World Records named her as the world’s top-selling author! Upon her passing on May 20, 2000, she remained the twentieth century’s best-known writer of romance.
Born on July 9, 1901, this British writer went on to dominate popular fiction throughout the century. She began her writing career with a gossip column in the Daily Express newspaper, an ironic choice for a woman who would become the relative of one of the most gossiped-about women in the history of the world, Princess Diana. By 1925, Cartland had moved to full fiction with her debut novel, Jigsaw, and had been presented at court. From this beginning, she released new novels at a furious pace, with such titles as The Ruthless Rake, The Penniless Peer, and The Cruel Count, as well as several volumes of autobiography and other nonfiction works, such as The Etiquette Book; Love, Life, and Sex; Look Lovely, Be Lovely; and Barbara Cartland’s Book of Beauty and Health, for which she received strong criticism due to a very old-fashioned and rather antifeminist view of women as the “inferior” gender.
This dissatisfaction passed quickly, though, and Barbara retained her crown as the world-renowned queen of romance novels. In 1950, she moved to Camfield Place, the house built by Beatrix Potter’s grandfather, where Potter wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Many movies have been based on Cartland’s beloved books, including A Hazard of Hearts, A Duel of Hearts, The Flame Is Love, The Ghost of Monte Carlo, and The Lady and the Highwayman, and her position at the top of the heap is in no danger. No other writer has written so much for so many as Dame Barbara Cartland.