Some might be surprised to find these Christmas card from the romance novelist Dame Barbara Cartland in amongst our collections! In fact we have a few, plus a fair bit of other correspondence, in the papers of Sir Arthur Bryant.
They became friends after meeting at a social event, and corresponded throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, until Bryant’s death in 1985. Though writers of somewhat differing genres, they shared a respect for each other’s work (in one of the copy letters from Bryant to Cartland in the early 1980s he praises her book Romantic Royal Marriages), and Cartland asked Bryant to write the foreword for a book she wrote about her brother, Ronald. The correspondence between the two is very light hearted, concentrating mainly on their social calendar, as well as the latest vitamins and health supplements recommended by Cartland.
The personalised cards encapsulate Cartland perfectly, showing her photographed in her unique attire and signed in pink pen. Her frothy exterior concealed a steely work ethic – she wrote more than 700 books in her lifetime and in 1983 wrote 23 novels, holding the Guinness World Record for the most novels written in a single year. She was made a Dame in 1991 in honour of nearly 70 years of literary, political, and social contributions, and died in 2000 at the grand age of 98.