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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On the Meaning & History of Black Irish

Liam Neeson as Blackie O'Neill
Here’s one of my secrets about The Cavendon Luck. Everybody’s favorite fellow, Blackie O’Neill, makes a brief cameo alongside Emma Harte in the story. Many fans have asked me what the term “Black Irish” actually means. Here is the answer many of you have been waiting for…
            “Black Irish.” It is a term has been used for centuries to describe the Irish who descended from the Spanish sailors and soldiers who survived the debacle of the Spanish Armada.
            The huge fleet of ships had floated into the Irish Sea, and many had foundered off the coast of Ireland. It was the lucky ones who made it to the shore; many drowned. Those who survived stayed on in the Emerald Isle. They married the beautiful Irish women, had children, and their children had children and so on. The physical features that everyone remarked on were their good looks, black hair and warm black or brown eyes. Although I personally know several Black Irish women with deep blue eyes. And that’s how the phrase Black Irish came about.
            Many Spanish names also lived on, and one that comes to mind is the first president of the Irish Republic, Eamon De Valera, who went into office in 1959.
            If you don’t know much about English history you must be wondering what those Spanish ships were doing in the Irish Sea. Here’s a little history lesson:

            In 1588, King Philip of Span sent a great fleet of war ships, known thereafter as the Spanish Armada, to invade England. Philip, former brother-in-law of the great Tudor Queen, Elizabeth I, was enraged with her. He believed she was involved in the politics of the Spanish Netherlands, and in “privateering” on the Spanish Main, the coastal region of Spanish America in the 16th and 17th centuries which Spanish ships constantly used. Many of these ships were attacked and boarded by so-called “pirates.” Gold, other treasure and cargo was stolen. Philip was convinced that two of the Queen’s favorite sea captains, Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, were prime suspects. She always cleverly duplicitous, denied this and informed Philip she would have them hung, drawn and quartered if the king’s accusations proved to be true.
            However, she never did anything to chastise them; actually they were both given knighthoods eventually. Why? Because they were doing her bidding. She made England rich on Spanish spoils.
            As the Spanish Armada sailed toward England in that fateful August, the Tudor Queen had her own great navy waiting of them.; she also had thousands of land forces on the ready for the invasion of England.
            Elizabeth went to Tilbury in Essex, to review her troops, accompanied by Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. He was her childhood friend, the only man she had ever truly loved, and one of her three loyal advisors since she ascended to the throne. She had made him her Lieutenant General, and he was in charge of the army, her commander-in-chief in actuality.
            It was on August the 9th 1588 that Elizabeth made an inspiring speech to her troops, and it is certainly one of my favorites. On the day of the speech, the queen left her bodyguard at the fort of Tilbury, and went out amongst her soldier subjects with a small escort only: Lord Ormonde walked ahead, carrying the Sword of State. He was followed by a young page leading the Queen’s charger; a second page carried a cushion with her silver helmet placed on it, and the queen was behind them, regal and as charismatic as always. She was dressed entirely in white, wore a silver breastplate, and was mounted on a grey gelding. Next to her rode her Lieutenant General, Robert Dudley. On her other side, also mounted, was the Earl of Essex, her Master of the Horse.
            Here is the middle part of her speech to her soldiers, which I love the most, and it has gone down in history as truly memorable:
            “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any Prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than dishonor shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.”
            The two fleets did do battle. The English lost ships and so did the Spanish, who hastily retreated. Later they attacked the English fleet again, but by a strange twist of fate, the weather changed. A fierce wind blew up and pushed the Armada of its course and sent it into the Irish Sea, where most of the ships smashed against the rocky shoreline. Some of the Spaniards drowned, but others were rescued and remained in Ireland.

            English sailors insisted that God was on the side of their great Queen and had intervened on her behalf.

The Cavendon Luck by Barbara Taylor Bradford will be published in North America on June 7th and on June 16th in the UK. Pre-Order your copy today.

UK Edition Of The Cavendon Luck
US Edition of The Cavendon Luck

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Our Girls Immortalized On Canvas

Painting of Beaji & Chammi by Christine Merrill
Finally it arrived last Friday! The long-awaited painting of Beaji and Chammi Bradford by Christine Merrill. In our opinion, Christine is the finest painter of animal pets in the world. There is no one like her, and her work is superb. She is meticulous, and her subjects come alive on canvas in the most amazing way.

Our two little Bichon Frises look absolutely gorgeous and so lifelike, they seem about to jump out of the frame and into our laps. The painting took almost a year but it was certainly worth waiting for. Both girls are now in Doggie Heaven, and Christine painted them from a photograph of them sitting near daffodils in the garden of our former country home in Connecticut.
What is so beautiful and unique about all of Christine's animal paintings is the background she creates. When she painted Gemmy, our first Bichon Frise, she placed her in a formal English park somewhat reminiscent of of Gainsborough or Constable painting. And she did this again for the Beaji and Chammi portrait.

The painting arrived during Bob's birthday week, and it now hangs in his den. Wherever he is in the room, their big black eyes seem to follow him everywhere. What an achievement, and we salute and thank this fabulous artist. We were so excited when the painting was brought to us by Bill Secord, of the William Secord Gallery, we could hardly contain ourselves. And of course we had tears in our eyes because we have this fantastic image of our girls to look at every day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Women Of Substance in Houston, Texas - April 8, 2015

Former First Lady, Barbara Bush met up with Bob and I in Houston, Texas for a private visit before I was honored at a charity event.
We chatted with Mrs. Bush, who had come to the event early to see us. She arrived with her son Neil and his wife, Maria. We have been friends with Mrs. Bush since she was the First Lady in Washington.

 The three of us share a deep interest in literacy, and I have worked with Mrs. Bush on her Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in the past.
The event in Houston was to benefit The Women's Home, which helps women in distress in Houston. I was pleased to be honored alongside the Honorable Joanne King Herring at an English Tea at the Four Seasons hotel. We were interviewed on stage by Ernie Manouse of PBS Houston, who is the host of the popular TV show, Manor Of Speaking.
I told the audience that Barbara Bush is an icon, and the woman I most admire in the world.

Our very special thanks to our dear friend, Paul-David Van-Atta for all his amazing efforts to put this event together over the past couple of months. He did a truly remarkable job.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

SEVEN Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Me - A Daily Mail Feature

I spurned the love of Peter O’Toole

Barbara Taylor Bradford
MailOnline US - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

Barbara Taylor Bradford, novelist
Barbara Taylor Bradford, novelist
1. I only have one number in my mobile phone — my husband Bob’s! I only use my mobile out during the day and the only person who I ever need to contact is Bob. There is no need for anyone else to know where I am. I’m not interested in putting hundreds of contacts into my mobile as most social calls are done in the comfort of my own home on my landline.
2. As a fledgling reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post I was constantly dodging another reporter on the Yorkshire Evening News, who was forever chasing me and asking me out. I wasn’t interested, but some years later I saw him again — starring in Lawrence of Arabia. Peter O’Toole hadn’t looked like that back in Leeds, although he’d had those great blue eyes. That night at the cinema, looking up at the screen, I wondered why I had spurned him.
3. I’m a secret interior designer and love creating rooms. I have even decorated homes for friends — for free! Few people know I wrote four books on decorating before becoming a novelist. I even had a syndicated design column in 200 newspapers in the U.S.
4. I have almost total recall and a prodigious memory. My husband warns people not to tell me something that they might want me to forget later, because I won’t. I can still quote back to him the first words he ever said to me 51 years ago: ‘Jeanne sends her love.’ Jeanne was a mutual friend who had suggested we meet as she thought we would hit it off — and we did.
5. I have a fear of water and will only swim in a pool where my feet can touch the bottom. I think it’s due to almost drowning when I was two years old.
Barbara spurned the advances of a young Peter O’Toole (pictured in Lawrence of Arabia) while they were both working at the Yorkshire Evening Post
Barbara spurned the advances of a young Peter O’Toole (pictured in Lawrence of Arabia) while they were both working at the Yorkshire Evening Post
My aunt and uncle had taken me for a day out to the River Nidd near Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. While my aunt was knitting and my uncle was fishing further down the bank, they lost sight of me. When they finally found me it was with my head popping up and down, drowning in the river. By the time they reached me the hem of my white dress had caught on a tree — saving my life. On returning home, they confessed to my parents and my mother never let them take me out again.
6. While I have some fabulous jewellery from my husband, two of my favourite bracelets were given to me by Joan Rivers, who was a great friend of mine for 20 years. They were from the collection she designed for the QVC shopping channel and made of turquoise enamel banded in gold. At one particular dinner, Joan was admiring my jewellery and said it was too valuable to wear on holiday. Two days later, two shopping bags arrived full of earrings, bracelets and a watch. In private, Joan was genteel, decorous, elegant and never vulgar.
7. I got my skincare routine from my friend, the late Evelyn Lauder — who was the daughter-in-law of Estee Lauder and helped develop the company’s skin care and make-up, including coming up with the Clinique brand. While her business was selling products, her big tip was ‘don’t use one cream all the time’ as your skin gets used to it. I’ve taken that advice since and my dermatologist recently remarked that I had one of the most fabulous skins she had ever seen, which made my day!
Barbara Taylor Bradford’s The Cavendon Women is out March 24, 2015 (HarperCollins £16.99).

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Actor Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne's performance in The Theory Of Everything is not only brilliant but so shockingly perfect it is beyond belief.

Two Academy Awards, two BAFTAs, not only one of each, and every other award given for acting, should go to this extraordinary actor, who plays Stephen Hawking, the world's greatest physicist, in his new movie.

My husband, Bob and I went to a private screening in New York on Monday night, and were actually unable to speak when the film ended. The silence in the theater was so intense it was a palpable thing... until the applause started. It was obvious the rest of the audience had reacted in the same way. Everyone was overwhelmed.

We walked out into the lobby stunned by our emotional reaction to Redmayne's acting, barely able to say a word to each other. My throat had closed and I was choked up with feelings. Bob felt the same. We walked down the street in a kind of daze. Then I began to cry. We were both in awe of the actor.

Eddie Redmayne brings acting genius to this difficult role. He becomes Stephen Hawking, and it is the performance of a lifetime. Hawking, a brilliant student at Cambridge, was struck down by motor-neuron disease at twenty-three. With the help of his fiance Jane, who married him, he somehow managed to meet the challenge and overcome it. He became a professor at Cambridge, and the world's foremost physicist who has endeavored to explain the universe to us. One of his books, A Brief History Of Time, has sold ten million copies.

The extraordinary thing about Redmayne is that in the film he goes from playing Stephen as a handsome student to a crippled man with twisted limbs and a contorted face.

It is a miracle of acting of the highest order, and from the very beginning of this beautifully-made film we believed that Eddie was Stephen. 

This is one of those MUST SEE films. Don't miss it. Eddie Redmayne is heart-stopping.

The Theory Of Everything opens November 7th in North America, and on January 2nd in the UK.
View the movie trailer here: The Theory Of Everything - Movie Trailer

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Publishing Update - Autumn 2014

As we enter the season of celebrations, and in response to your many queries, I've decided to update you on my publishing program.

I begin with eBooks...

1) HIDDEN has been a # 1 eBook bestseller in the UK for more than six months, and is still top-ten in North America. This is my debut novella (short story), and it is currently being prepared as a 2-hour TV movie.
An Amazon exclusive.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer 2014 Update & My New eBook Novella

Just a quick note to say sorry for not updating my blog of late.  I’m juggling lots of exciting things at the moment and wish there were more hours in the day!  Bob and I have just moved into our new apartment in New York City and we are all now beginning to get settled in. Moving is a mammoth task as any of you will know.

I’m also delighted to say that I've got a new eBook which is about to be published in August called Treacherous.   It’s a novella I wrote earlier this year and perfect to read as you head on your holidays this summer.  My publicist emailed me as she had an advanced copy and said she read the book in one sitting and loved the characters and exciting story.  I hope you will too!  
I’m also deep into writing Cavendon Women, the sequel to Cavendon Hall.  This will be published in early 2015.
Treacherous -- My New eBook Novella

I must get back to my desk now, but will post more once I've finished writing the new book. I'ts my thirtieth.  In the meantime, I do hope you enjoy Treacherous.

Wishing you all a great summer.

Barbara Taylor Bradford

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cavendon Hall Cocktail Party Hosted By Vanessa Noel - June 5th, 2014

Renowned women's shoe designer, Vanessa Noel last night gave a cocktail reception in my honor, and to celebrate the success of CAVENDON HALL. The party was attended by some 300 well-known New Yorkers, toasting my new novel, and the announcement from London yesterday that my eBook novella, HIDDEN, has returned to # 1 position on the Amazon charts.

Among the applauding guests was Arthur Klebanoff, the President of Rosetta Books, who publishes my Woman Of Substance series in e-book format. The Emma Harte series seems to meet the same success as the above-mentioned HIDDEN.

The gathering seemed delighted to hear that The Cavendon Women, the sequel to Cavendon Hall, will soon be published in England and in North America.

What a great evening it was.
That's me with L.A. Talk Radio Host Max Tucci, who was
instrumental in organizing this book party.