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Who would have known that the famous romantic novelist Dame Barbara Cartland had substantial connections to Malvern? Her mother, ‘Polly’ Mary Hamilton Scobell who was born in Newent, bought and lived in Littlewood House in what was known as Poolbrook village in 1931, she lived there until her death in 1976 and she is buried in Great Malvern Cemetery. Dame Barbara Cartland was educated at The Alice Ottley School an independent all-girls school in Worcester, then she moved to Malvern Girl’s College and then to Abbey House in Hampshire.

Dame Barbara Cartland was born Mary Barbara Cartland in Edgbaston, Birmingham on 9 July 1901, the oldest of three children, the family were suitably well off until her grandfather’s  financial difficulties meant that the family had to move to a smaller house, unfortunately this was not the end to the family’s woes, as her father Captain Bertram Cartland was killed in the final months of the first world war. Tragically her two younger brothers were also killed at war, they died in Dunkirk on consecutive days of the battle in 1940.  It was after the First World War when Barbara was still living in London, that she started to write. By her early twenties she was providing gossip columns to newspapers and had started writing her first novel ‘Jigsaw’ that was published in 1925.

After famously rejecting 56 marriage proposals, Barbara finally married Alexander McCorquodale in 1927 and had her daughter Raine (who would later become stepmother to the late Princess Diana of Wales). Barbara later divorced and remarried in 1936 and had two sons. She was renowned for her prolific writing and was described as the ‘Queen of Romance’, she wrote 723 books in her lifetime and even holds a Guinness world record for the most books written in one year. She was best known for her romantic novels, with historical references, full of romances with princes, strong heroines, sinister love rivals and dramatic revelations, but they always ended with a happy ending. Her real life was interestingly different from her books and was in fact far more colourful, she was clearly a driven, independent minded woman who was not afraid to do things differently, this showed in her wide and varied fields of interest during her long life time. During WWII she became a County Cadet Officer, raising funds for St John’s Ambulance. After the WWII she then became a County Councillor for Hatfield, she was made a Dame in 1991 for recognition of the work and campaigns she had led that had a significant and lasting impact on many people’s lives and careers.

This excerpt comes from her online biography:
“She fought for better salaries and conditions for nurses and midwives, evoked an inquiry into the government’s treatment of the elderly and perhaps most impressively of all, campaigned for the rights of gypsies…which led to gypsy children attending school in England for the first time.”

So, for this Valentines’ day if you fancy a good romantic read to get you in the mood or just fancy reading a Barbara Cartland book for the first time then here’s some recommended bestselling books of hers:

Sweet Enchantress: Lord Waterforde, intends to marry his daughter Judy, off against her will to the Duc de Sahran who lives in the exotic South of France and whom she has never met. However, she is secretly in love with a charming young man Clive Cunningham. Judy and her best friend are despatched to meet the Duc at his fairy tale chateau. Deception, Love and despair follows, who will fall in love with the handsome Frenchman, who will be about to lose her life?

The Blue Eyed Witch: The Marquis of Aldridge bored with the social world of London and the constant demands of the lovelorn Prince of Wales, takes refuge at his remote country estate, Ridge Castle, deep in the ‘Witch Country’ of Essex. Riding through the village close to the castle he comes upon a mob of villagers dragging the unconscious body of a young woman to the duck pond, convinced she is a witch. The Marquis rescues the young waif and takes the raven haired, blue eyed beauty back to the castle, surely this woman is too lovely to be a witch, or is she?

Pure and Untouched: The Duke of Ravenstock is the most attractive and elusive bachelor in London, and the most notorious. His exploits and romantic escapades keep the social world buzzing. Shocked by his sudden announcement that he is to marry, his friends soon realise what has captured the Duke’s heart is the purity and innocence of his intended bride. Only for the Duke to find that his pure bride to be has taken a lover, to which the Duke plots a cruel revenge.

The Mysterious Maid Servant: Giselda, desperate for money and with no money for an operation for her younger brother desperately needs to save his life, ground down by poverty the only thing she has of value is her purity, she approaches her wealthy and handsome employer the Earl of Lyndhurst, who is recovering from injuries sustained during the battle of Waterloo, appalled by her plight he vows to find a way to help her without offending her dignity. He knows she will never accept his charity he employs her as his private nurse, where he uncovers her secrets and learns to love.

Further books and information on Dame Barbara Cartland can be found on her online biography www.barbaracartland.com

Once we reopen tourism, we invite you to come an explore our beautiful area with your loved one, where you can walk hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm at various stunning locations with incredible vistas with the ‘Wow’ factor. Maybe the views are what inspired Barbara Cartland to be a romanticist.

Find out where you can book your short break or romantic holiday in the future here www.visitthemalverns.org/accommodation.

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