International best-selling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford has published her 29th novel, Cavendon Hall, and will be visiting Wilton Library April 1, 7 to 8:30 p.m., to discuss it.
“I created Cavendon Hall from an idea I outlined six years ago,” Ms. Bradford told The Bulletin last week.
“I had an idea about two girls — one is an aristocrat, one is not — who know each other because they are growing up in the same house, in a sense — a stately home, and have been friends for life.”
After creating the outline for the story, Ms. Bradford said she realized the story wasn’t one book, but two.
Because of this, Ms. Bradford said she decided to set the outline aside.
“In 2012, I suddenly thought, ‘Maybe now is the time,’” she said. “So I took it out and revamped it a little bit, and then I wrote the book.”
Ms. Bradford said she doesn’t know where the idea for Cavendon Hall, or any of her novels, come from.
“I don’t really believe in inspiration. I think an idea comes to you and you think it over and you mull it over,” said Ms. Bradford. “An idea will come to me and then I work it out, or I might have an idea for the whole story almost immediately. I have no set formula.”
Set over a 16-year time period, from 1913 to 1929, Cavendon Hall is about two families — the aristocratic Inghams, and the Swanns who have served the Ingham family for generations — that live under the same roof in Cavendon Hall.
With World War I looming and a life-changing event threatening the Ingham family name, the two families find themselves tested in ways unforeseen, leading to challenged loyalties and betrayals.
“I think the unique thing about Cavendon Hall is that it’s not an upstairs-downstairs story,” said Ms. Bradford.
Although the Inghams and Swanns are of two different classes — the Swanns being “downstairs” people and the Inghams being “upstairs” — Ms. Bradford said she did not focus on the class difference.
Instead, she said, she focused on the relationship between the two families.
“I’ve really written about these two families who, in a sense, have been entwined for centuries and are very devoted to each other,” said Ms. Bradford. “That’s what makes this story different.”
Becoming a novelist
Ms. Bradford said she has been writing since she was seven years old and had her first literary work published three years later.
“When I was 10, my mother liked this story I had written, so she sent it to a children’s magazine that was always asking for young readers to send in written contributions,” said Ms. Bradford. “The magazine bought it and published it, so at the age of 10, I was a paid writer.”
Ms. Bradford said the first time she saw her name in print she knew she was going to be a writer.
At the age of 15, Ms. Bradford left school for the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post and became a reporter at age 16.
Ms. Bradford became the Yorkshire Evening Post’s first woman’s page editor at age 18.
“When I was 20, I went to work as a fashion editor at Women’s Own magazine,” she said. “I only stayed a year, because I wanted to get back to newspapers.”
Ms. Bradford then got a job as a feature writer on the London Evening News.
“I worked on newspapers for many years, and I still do write for a number of British papers, but I always had that dream of being a novelist,” said Ms. Bradford.
In the late 1970s, Ms. Bradford had the idea for her first novel A Woman of Substance.
“I had tried to write other novels, but when I got the idea for A Woman of Substance, I knew I would finish it,” said Ms. Bradford. “That’s how I became a novelist.”
A Woman of Substance was published in 1979 and was a New York Times best seller for 55 weeks.
Ms. Bradford said she has set all 29 of her novels either in the 20th or 21st Century and in different areas of the world.
“I’ve written books set in France, New York, California, all over England — I just pick the locations that I think I need for the story,” she explained. “I’m published in 90 countries and 40 languages. People like to read a little bit about their own hometowns.”
Ms. Bradford’s husband, American film producer Robert Bradford, has made a number of miniseries and television movies out of her books.
“My books are very popular,” said Ms. Bradford. “I’ve sold over 85 million copies worldwide.”
Tuesday, April 1, will be Ms. Bradford’s first time visiting Wilton Library.
Ms. Bradford will be interviewed by Wilton resident Megan Smith-Harris and then have a question-and-answer session, followed by a book signing.
Ms. Bradford said she is looking forward to meeting her fans and signing copies of Cavendon Hall for them.
“I think authors who don’t want to sign their own books are rather silly,” said Ms. Bradford.
“I always sign books and I love doing it. I like these events.”
The Wilton Library event is free, but registration is highly recommended.
Pre-registrants are encouraged to arrive by 6:50 p.m. to be guaranteed seating. Wait-listed and walk-in registrants will be admitted after 6:50 if space is available.
Registration and information: 203-762-3950 ext. 213, www.wiltonlibrary.org.