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Fame & Fortune
Barbara Taylor Bradford
Barbara Taylor Bradford
Does her fiction spring from a subconscious sense of nobility?
Celebrity interview

'Woman of Substance' has mysterious past

Bankrate: What kind of a girl were you?

Barbara Taylor Bradford: I was a bit of a goody-two-shoes in the sense that I always did my homework and I was always a very good student. I was an only child. I was a bit of a tomboy as well, always climbing in and out of the trees and having grazed knees. But I was serious in the sense that I took my schoolwork very seriously. I was the same in my first job on the newspaper as a reporter; I took it very seriously and did my work. I think that was why I got a lot of respect, because I was the only girl in that newsroom.

Bankrate: Did you need to work to survive?

Barbara Taylor Bradford: Well, when I was in Leeds, I lived at home and it was fine. We were not poor. My father was out of work at one point during the Depression when nobody could get a job, much less someone who was disabled. He had lost his leg in an accident. But when the war started in 1939, he was back working as an engineer. We didn't have a lot of money but we were not poor. I always had nice clothes and we always had food and a nice little house. Money didn't motivate me; I would say it was ambition.

Bankrate: Your mother was certainly a driving force, however.

Barbara Taylor Bradford: I think she saw a talent there, so what she tried to do was encourage that, one, and she thought I was entitled to it, because I might not have known but she knew that she was the daughter of a marquess. She wanted me to go to an elite university, but my response was, "You don't learn to be a newspaperwoman at a university." She was very insistent about it, but I got myself a job and they let me stay, they didn't pull me out of there and make me go back to school. But I suppose she felt that I was entitled to a better life than she had had, because I suppose she felt that she hadn't had what she was supposed to have, if her father was a marquess. It's a strange story.

Bankrate: Did those years in newspapers and magazines contribute to your success as a novelist?

Barbara Taylor Bradford: I think they helped to make me a very well-informed woman about the world. I'm still very much into news and newspapers and what's happening in the world. I think it taught me how to do research and to be accurate; that's why I always like to do my own research when it's something I might be challenged on historically. It taught me about deadlines; look, you can't start a long book two weeks before you're supposed to deliver it. I also think I learned over the years as a journalist a lot of psychological insight into people. When you're writing about people for a newspaper, you have to understand what makes them tick. You have to have compassion. I think all of that developed when I was in newspapers.

Next: "I think most people who retire just fall apart."
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