• Portrait by Lord Lichfield
  • Portrait by Julian Dufort
  • Portrait by Julian Dufort

Barbara Taylor Bradford

Barbara Taylor Bradford 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 and, at 20, moved to London and became a fashion editor and columnist on Fleet Street. She now lives in New York with her husband of over 50 years, television producer Robert Bradford.

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 10 years old.

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 55 weeks.

Barbara has had 31 books published, all worldwide bestsellers, and her latest, The Cavendon Luck, is out now.

Ten of her books have been produced as TV films or drama series starring actors including Liam Neeson, 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.

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 (31 works of fiction). They are displayed next to those of Yorkshire’s other legendary writers, including the Bronte sisters.


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.”


  1. Early years

    Early years

    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 aged 15 and six months. 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 88 million.

  2. It all started with a blind date

    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 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.

  3. Dedicated to the one I love

    Dedicated to the one I love

    Barbara Taylor Bradford has, to date, written 29 novels – each of which has been dedicated to Bob. Both workaholics and unrepentant romantics, Barbara and Bob celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in December 2013 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.