Afternoon tea with Barbara Taylor Bradford at Rudding Park, Harrogate

Barbara Taylor Bradford

Barbara Taylor Bradford - Credit: Archant

Bestselling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford catches up with family and friends as well as fans at an exclusive Yorkshire Life afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea - Credit: Archant

An excited crowd gathered at one of Yorkshire’s leading hotels to meet bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford. She was in Harrogate to attend an exclusive Yorkshire Life reader event and meet some of her most devoted followers. ‘I’m her top fan,’ said Marjorie Slater from Keighley as she sipped a glass of sparkling wine at a drinks reception just before afternoon tea at Rudding Park, where Barbara was to give a talk and sign copies of her latest book. ‘I have a copy of her first book Woman of Substance from when it came out in 1979. I just love the characters in the book and wish she would bring them back in a new book. I love everything she does. I cannot wait for her next book.’

Among the guests who settled into their seats in the banqueting room were family and childhood friends including Marjorie Clarke from Ripon who has known Barbara since they were very young children. Barbara, she said, was a bridesmaid at her wedding at Ripon Cathedral.

‘She’s always in touch. We see each other once or twice a year and we speak fairly frequently on the telephone to catch up on families and mutual friends.’ Marjorie’s son Antony helped the writer with research into grouse shooting for her new bestseller Cavendon Hall. ‘I do a lot of shooting as a hobby and was happy to help Barbara with some technical details.’

Cavendon Hall is a dynastic story of a stately home and the families whose destiny it shapes. The idea for the book came to her six years ago as a story about Cecily Swann and Delacy Ingham, two girls from opposite fortunes but as close as sisters, living in a great house.

She rediscovered early drafts of the manuscript only recently and was inspired to return to it. The result is a classic Taylor Bradford novel.

Yorkshire is still dear to her heart although she lives in New York with her husband of 44 years, television producer Robert Bradford.

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She told her audience: ‘It’s better to write about something you know well, set it where you know everything. I know Yorkshire, I grew up here.

‘You can take the girl out of Yorkshire but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the girl.’

Barbara’s 1979 debut novel, A Woman of Substance, ranks as one of the top-ten bestselling books of all-time, with more than 32 million copies in print.

All 28 of her novels to date have been major worldwide bestsellers. Her original manuscripts are archived at the Brotherton Library at Leeds University, alongside the works of the Bronte sisters.

She supports the National Literacy Trust, a charity dedicated to improving literacy across the UK. She is passionate about improving life chances for everyone, to help them reach their full potential, in particular young women.

Afternoon tea menu


Cucumber on white

Smoked salmon on granary

Yorkshire ham and mustard on white


20 Green tea cone with mango parfait

Dark and milk chocolate mousse with honeycomb

Seasonal fruit tart with vanilla cream and apricot glaze

37 Warm scones were served with jam and clotted cream