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
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.
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.