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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things

By Barbara Taylor Bradford

Some years ago, a British magazine called MORE! asked me to compile a list of my favorite things for a feature article. This could be anything from my favorite books, to my favorite products, foods and movies. I recently came across this page while organizing my files at home. I thought it might be fun to update it and share it with you on my blog. Here’s what I’ve come up with…

My idol, tongue-in-cheek, remains Emma Harte, the heroine of my novels A Woman Of Substance & Hold The Dream. Not only because I created her, but also because she has been an inspiration all over the world. More than 30 million copies of A Woman Of Substance have been sold to date. That accounts for a lot of readers who still embrace the concept of strong women characters (real, or in fiction). Jenny Seagrove (pictured above), played the young Emma in the miniseries. Deborah Kerr was the older Emma.

Naturally, my true idol is Margaret Thatcher, who became the most powerful woman in the world, and actually was for eleven years. My biographer, Piers Dudgeon, said that if she hadn't existed I would have invented her. He was right! Because I create women who conquer the world, and she certainly did!

When it comes to men on screen, my hero is Colin Firth. He’s got that clean-cut English look that I like. He’s handsome, sensitive and a wonderful actor. His Oscar winning role in The King's Speech is one of the best performances ever. 

My all-time favorite film is Gone With The Wind. Even when I see it on TV these days, the film still holds up beautifully. Perhaps because of the period costumes the film does not become dated. Clark Gable was the greatest sex-symbol ever. Of recent films, I absolutely adored War Horse, the Steven Spielberg WWI epic. It was a moving and touching story about a young man's love for a magnificent horse, and the horse's love for and dependence on this young man. I sat on the edge of my seat watching that extraordinary film. Spielberg is a genius.

 On TV, I’ve been absorbed by the British TV series Downton Abbey. I’ve been watching every episode on PBS (now in season two). Julian Fellowes, the creator, has written some powerful segments. His depictions of the aristocracy and the servant class in the Edwardian era is excellent, while the storylines are dramatic and realistic. Costumes beautiful; so are the settings. Gareth Neame, who took the original idea to Fellowes, had a brainstorm!

People often ask me what my favorite book is. I’ve read many great modern novels. One of my favorite’s is the spy series featuring Gabriel Allon written by Daniel Silva. But in terms of all-time classics, I’d have to go with Wuthering Heights by Emily 
Brontë. I suppose I was indirectly inspired by it. It’s a Yorkshire novel and I’m a Yorkshire writer after all. My roots will always be in the Dales. I go back there often, but my home is in New York.  

My favorite meal is fish and chips. When I was in London recently, a friend and I had an old fashioned fish and chips supper at the Dorchester Hotel of all places, in the Promenade. I had mushy peas, malt vinegar, the lot. I enjoy smoked salmon and caviar, and also like good French cooking, but I prefer English food; you can’t beat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, the latter made by a Yorkshire woman.  

When it comes to a drink, I like a glass of Billecart Salmon  rosé  champagne. I can tell the difference between champagne brands and I know when I am drinking Billecart rosé , even if I haven’t seen the bottle.

I’m a great tea drinker. I’ve got a collection at home and English Breakfast is one of my favorites. Taylor's of Harrogate, from Bettys cafe in Yorkshire, is the brand I prefer.   

I could joke and say that my favorite department store is Harte's (Emma’s store in A Woman Of Substance), but in reality it’s not. I like Fortnum and Mason. Everyone thinks that A Woman Of Substance is based on the story of Harrods. But it isn't. The story is fictional. My food department in A Woman Of Substance was similar to the one at Harrods, but that's all.

My favorite item of clothing is a simple black dress. Everyone says that I have good legs, so I like to make the most of them with opaque black stockings and high-heeled shoes.

I use Clinique cosmetics; I think blondes can look very faded without eye make-up and lipstick, so I don’t like to go without. I emphasize my green eyes with a hint of purple eye shadow. It works best over brown shadow.

Frank Sinatra is the best. My favorite song of his is One For My Baby & One More For The Road. Other artists I like include Barbra Streisand and Neil Sedaka.  

 Although I have English taste in decorating, and admire certain English painters, such as J.M.W. Turner, Gainsborough, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, I am addicted to the great Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, who were painting in France in the 1800s. Renior is my favorite, but I also love the paintings of Cézanne, Degas and Gaugin.

I hope you all enjoyed reading my list of favorite things. I would love to hear your lists of your favorites in return...


  1. My list is a close second to yours. I absolutely have to watch Woman of Substance, Hold my Dream and To Be The Best DVD's once a year.

    Your books carry me to England and I love it.

    Barbara Taylor Bradford, you are the best.

    Thank you, Hugs, Thelma

  2. I loved your Emma Harte (character in a Woman of Substance) stories. I have the box set as my old paper books fell apart, lol. I have lent & also recommended this book to many people both young and old. I think any woman going into business should read this as it has many sides. Yes I also love that it is generational they make you feel as though you've lived the years with them. I feel that the mini series should be rerun on television as it has more than one message. My box set is on loan at the moment. I read them every few years in case you may somehow in future carry it right on into today. Would be a very interesting read. Females with low self esteem should read this and see that choices are ours and dreams can become reality. Choices and consequences are all clear in this series.

  3. Oh, I love the Emma Harte series. First the books and when it came on television. I loved being able to continue along with the same family with all their secrets, problems and loves. I also love Colin Firth, Clinque make-up, English Breakfast Tea's and Fish and Chips!!

    I can tell you that starting with Woman of Substance, I had the whole place fixed in my mind, Emma's home with her family and her working rooms in the palace. You do such a good job describing the areas and your characters, that I just took it from there. REally love you work, Barbara Taylor Bradford!

  4. A Few of My Favorite Things

    I have many people in my life that are my idols, first and formost are my daughters, Angela, Michelle and Jennifer who have grown into wonderful successful women, and mothers and I am so proud of each of them.
    You Barbara, are among the next group of people that are my idols, they are authors. Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steel, Joanna Trollope, Nicholas Sparks, Jackie Collins and Adriana Trigiana are my favorite authors and I have pictures of all of you in my writing area for inspiration. It was some time back in the late 1990's when I read your interview in The Writer Magazine on the Five D's that I went on to write "A Dramatist Prayer" using only words with the letter D to jump start my writing one day. Authors are my rock stars.
    My favorite male actors are Harrison Ford, John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart.
    My favorite female actors are Emma Thompson (my birthday buddy), Helen Mirren, and Sandra Bullock.
    My favorite movie is Casablanca.
    My favorite television shows are re-runs of M*A*S*H and Frasier.
    My favorite books are novels written by my favorite authors. A Woman of Substance, Love in Another Town(BTB), Jewels, Message From Nam (DS), Marrying the Mistress (JT), The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe (NS), Hollywood Wives, Lucky (JC), Very Valentine, Brava Valentine (AT) and so many more.
    My favorite meal is Veal or Chicken Marsala over baby spinach with mushrooms at Bertucci's and mushroom pizza from a CT favorite pizzeria called Zuppardi's. No it's not located on Wooster Street in New Haven's little Italy, it's in West Haven.
    My favorite drink is coffee with French Vanilla cream.
    My favorite stores are Macy's and JC Penney's
    My favorite article of clothing is black pants and shirt with a color jacket, red or blue.
    I love shoes and purses. Once it took me two weeks to find the right purse and well...I still haven't found one that I really like.
    I love jewelry too, especially bracelets.
    My favorite item that I have at all times are my big sunglasses. I have a pair in both cars and in my purses.
    My favorite music is from classical, to classic rock of the 70's to classic soul. Roy Orbison, Queen, Marvin Gaye are some of my favorites.
    My favorite artist is Gorden Smedt and I love Renoir.
    My favorite place in the world is any island in the Caribbean. Bermuda, Aruba.
    My favorite vacation is taking cruises to those islands in the Caribbean.
    and last but least my favorite thing to do is read novels and write my own novels.

  5. I adore A Woman of Substance, I can still remember where I was when I read this book.. I was just 20yrs old and working full time for the first time. I that was 34 yrs ago. I read it every day while having my lunch in the our lunchroom. People thought I was a bit snobby, but I was so abosobed in the book, I did not hear the converasation around me.
    Colin Firth is someone else I adore. I first saw him in Pride and Prejudice.. no one can play Mr. Darcy like he oculd. Cary Grant is also one of my all time fav actors, as well as John Wayne, he will always be my hero.

    One of my fav movies is How Green was My Valley, with Maureen O'Hara.. She is one of my all time fav actress, as long with Ms. Kerr and Susan Hayward..

    I can't begin to tell you my fav books becasue there are so many, but A Woman of Substance is on that list.. This would be like trying to say who my fav parent was my Mom or my Dad..
    As for singers, I would choose Dean Martin over Frank, and I also have to put Neil Diamond on this list...again there are so many great singers.. male that is.. Female singers I like are Shrily Bassey, Barbara Striesan, Reba McIntyre, Patsy Cline.. oh so many...
    I like fish and chips, but I will only eat Halibit...
    My cosmetics I like a few brands, Lancome', Clarin, and a few others..
    Champaye, well I must admit, I love MUMS... I had that for the first time when I was 18yrs old and I was spoiled for anything else..

    I am a tea drinker and I love Irish Breakfast Tea the best..

  6. I just love Emma Harte Thank YOu so much for being her to live in a mini series I wish that we could continue with the rest of her live on TV with of course Jenny Seagrove!
    Thanks Barbara

  7. I enjoy your books very much. I enjoy Breakfast Tea with shortbread cookies or Milano cookies. I enjoy music by Neil Diamond, Neil Young, Adele, Celine Dion. My favourite movie is Splendour in the Grass. My favourite vacation is to Bermuda. The stores I enjoy are Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman and boutiques. Favorite Actor - Robert DeNiro. Favorite Actress - Doris Day. My favorite meal is Caesar Chicken Salad. My cosmetics that I like are LeMer, MAC, Strivectin, Estee Lauder. I have far too many pocketbooks, shoes and scarves. I enjoy watches, and pendants on a neck collar. My attire of choice is black leggins and a white top of some kind. I enjoy New York, and miss living on Long Island dearly. And finally I love decorating and incorporating sea shells into my decor. I love music of the late 60's and early 1970's. And enjoy tremendously reading your books.

  8. Our favourite thing is Shadwell Library- its a beautiful but crumbling little building.Now threatened with closure by Leeds City Council.Local authors need to know what is happening to their readers (fans).

  9. I have to admit that my favorite book is 'Woman of Substance' as it has given me so much confidence to be the woman I have turned out to be, completing three post-grad degrees in my retirement.
    Like you Barbara, my favotite meal is fish and chips, but with mushy peas.
    Jenny Seagrove is one of my favorite actresses and although I have moved house a few times I still keep the DVDs of Jenny playing the leading role in a number of your epics.
    My favorite singer/entertainer/actress would have to be Barbra Streisand. I have a DVD of her final concert in New York.
    My favorite male actor would have to be Denzil Washington, he is so cool.
    My favorite drink would have to be a good cup of 'Yorkshre Tea' by Taylors of Harrogate.
    My favorite shopping center would have to be Leeds City Markets.
    My favorite woman politician is Angela Merkel of Germany and my favotite male polly would be Barack Obama.

  10. Wow, my list is a close second to yours. Maybe it's the Yorkshire lass in us( we're close in age too)? Bankfield Museum is a stone's throw from where I'm from. Like you the Dales,those Yorkshire moors and the woolen mills will be in my blood forever. I too go back each year just to "smell the air", share and remember fond memories of Yorkshire with famiy. Love those books, keep them coming..

  11. I've watched The King's Speech and it certainly brought tears to my eyes! It moved me. Fish and chips is also my favorite meal, and it goes well with my favorite beer in local pubs around London.

  12. I suppose that since your favorite things are closely aligned with my favorite things, that fact that I'm writing to you about my friend Emma makes some sense. I have the whole set in hardcopy and have read the whole bunch many times. Now I am the proud owner of a Nook Color and want very much to have the complete series. Here in the US, I cannot purchase an ebook copy of "A Woman of Substance" or "Hold the Dream." It is really unthinkable to have a slice of the Emma Harte story! Will you and/or your publishers release the series for ebook sale .... please?

  13. We share a lot of favorite things - including GWTW as my all time favorite movie. GWTW book and A Woman of Substance get equal billing for favorite book - cannot choose between them.

    And I'll second Ginger - I would love, love, love to own A Woman of Substance on my e-reader. Please release it to the U.S.

  14. My husband is retired from the service and we live in Louisiana. I have never read one of your books. After reading an excerpt today, I certainly shall. Debbie Macomber, Nicholas Sparks, and jokebooks are among my favorite reads. Sauteed shrimp with candied sweet potatoes is my fave meal. I do not drink. I use CoverGirl/Olay makeup, a little bit of pink blush, and red lipstick. Van Gogh is my fave painter. I also love Golden Gate Bridge paintings. My favorite beverage is Sierra Mist. It doesn't leave an aftertaste like Sprite does. I like to write stories. I am not published yet. When I go to the big city next week, I will buy your book about the "Letters". Have a blessed day, Miss Barbara.

  15. I would love to have a copy of "A Woman of Substance" ebook! Do you think it will ever be released for the ereaders in the US? ... Pretty please ...

  16. This book completely changed my view of women not being able to stand. I come from a culture where women were expected to take a back seat in public even if they worked hard for a living. Also the sassiness of the film made the film more engaging. Barbara Thanks again

  17. thank you so much from Vietnam