Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE

Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE was born and raised in England. She left school at 15 for the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post. At 16 she was a reporter, and at 18 she became the paper’s first woman’s page editor. Two years later, aged 20, she moved to London and became a fashion editor and columnist on Fleet Street.

Barbara started writing fiction when she was just seven-years-old and sold her first short story to a magazine for seven shillings and sixpence when she was ten.

She published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979. It went from bestseller to super seller within its first year and stayed on the New York Times’ list for 43 weeks.

Barbara has had 39 books published, all worldwide bestsellers, and her latest novel, The Wonder of It All, is due out in October. This will be her 40th!

Ten of her books have been produced as TV films or drama series by her movie producer husband Bob Bradford and actors including Liam Neeson, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jenny Seagrove, Deborah Kerr, Sir John Mills and Elizabeth Hurley.

Barbara holds five Honorary Doctorate of Letters. These are from the University of Leeds, Yorkshire; the University of Bradford, Yorkshire; Teikyo Post University, Connecticut; Siena College, Loudonville, New York; Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, New York.

In October 2007, Barbara was appointed an OBE by The Queen (HM Queen Elizabeth II)  for her services to literature. 

Barbara is the recipient of 25 other awards for her writing achievements and philanthropy.

The Brotherton Library of Leeds University is the Keeper of the Barbara Taylor Bradford Archive. All of Barbara’s original manuscripts are housed there (39 works of fiction). They are displayed next to those of Yorkshire’s other legendary writers, including the Brönte sisters.

Barbara is an Ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, an independent UK charity that transforms lives through literacy, and she is passionate about empowering girls to write and let their voices be heard through their stories. She also supports a number of charities in the US and sits on the Board of The Police Athletic League and Reporters Without Borders.

Described as the “grand dame of blockbusters”, “Queen of the genre”, Barbara’s amazing success has made her one of the most successful writers in Britain today.

Today, Barbara Taylor Bradford is published in over 90 countries in 40 languages, with sales figures in excess of 90 million.


A Woman of Substance: a worldwide bestseller

  • A Woman of Substance is ranked in the top ten bestselling works of fiction of all time with more than 32 million copies sold.
  • The book tells the story of Emma Harte and the machinations and intrigue of a family retail empire. It is the first of seven novels following the trials and tribulations of the Harte family.
  • It was first published in 1979.
  • The original manuscript took two years to write, weighed 16.5 lbs and ran to 1,520 pages.
  • Barbara describes the leading character of her novel, Emma Harte, as a woman who was strong, independent, driven, ambitious, courageous – willing to go out and put herself on the line and do something. I created a woman who wanted to conquer the world.

“An extravagant, absorbing novel of love, courage, ambition, war, death and passion.”
– New York Times

“A mighty saga. Little has been so riveting since Good With the Wind.”
– Evening News

“A long, satisfying novel of money, power, passion and revenge, set against the sweep of 20th century history.”
– Los Angeles Times

Barbara Taylor Bradford at 17

After attending Christ Church Elementary School and Northcote Private School for Girls, Barbara Taylor started work as a typist for the Yorkshire Evening Post.

She was aged 15. 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.

Barbara and Robert Bradford

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 12 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.

Barbara Taylor Bradford has, to date, written 34 novels – each of which has been dedicated to her beloved Bob. Both workaholics and unrepentant romantics, Barbara and Bob were married for 55 years and were as dedicated to one another as they were when they first met. “I referred to him as the General,” she said, “and he called me Napoleon!” While Barbara wrote, Bob took care of her literary interests and business.

He also produced ten of Barbara’s books in to television mini-series or movies. After the publication in 1979 of her worldwide bestseller A Woman of Substance, which like all her books was dedicated to her beloved husband, Bob supervised the 1985 television mini-series of the book which starred Jenny Seagrove and Deborah Kerr. The series was watched in the UK by 13.8 million people, as well as broadcast around the world, and was nominated for two Emmys.

Barbara Taylor Bradford

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