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Sunday, 21 May, 2000, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
The grand dame of romance

Dame Barbara dictates to her secretary
Dame Barbara Cartland was probably the most prolific author the world has ever seen.

Even in her eighties she was writing an average of 23 books a year.

She penned hundreds of romantic novels, biographies and books giving advice on how to live.

Her sales were enormous - hundreds of millions - in France alone they reached 25m.

Her entry in Who's Who runs to more than a column and a half, consisting largely of a list of her books.

Romantic vision

Known as the Queen of Romance, Barbara Cartland was a champion of idealistic love and virginity before marriage, and she believed that women should be at home to look after the children.

Barbara Cartland
Cartland as a young socialite
In her later years she was an unforgettable figure. She usually appeared in public wearing a mass of pink chiffon and heavily made-up.

She attributed her long healthy life to honey and the vitamins she had always advocated.

The daughter of an Army officer, Barbara Cartland published her first novel, Jigsaw, when she was 21, and it ran into five editions.

Her books were mainly straightforward love stories, often sentimental and always without any literary pretensions, but they never wanted for readers.

Typical titles were A Virgin in Mayfair, Cupid Rides Pillion and Stars in my Heart.

More recently there were Wanted - A Wedding Ring, Love is Invincible and Desire in the Desert.

Full life
Barbara Cartland
Cartland: An unforgettable figure

Dame Barbara was active in many other walks of life.

She was a Conservative county councillor; she lectured and often broadcast on radio and television - impervious to or perhaps unconscious of - the mocking of interviewers such as Malcolm Muggeridge.

She organised exhibitions, she did work for the ATS, the St. John Ambulance and the Royal College of Midwives.

She carried on a vigorous campaign on behalf of gypsies and she helped her second husband, Hugh McCorquodale, to run his farm in Hertfordshire.

The child of her first marriage became the Countess of Dartmouth, and later Lady Spencer - stepmother to the Princess of Wales.

When she was in her late eighties Barbara Cartland started a romantic writing correspondence course.

She had received so many letters from would-be authors that she decided to share her technique to give the world what it needs - more beauty and love.

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21 May 00 | UK
Barbara Cartland dies
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