Sunday, March 12, 2006

Dame Barbara Cartland

This Months Queens of Camp Hall of Fame Inductee
Dame Barbara wrote Plays, Movie Scripts, Biographies and most famously over 700 Romance Novels making her the world’s most prolific author. Her novels all followed the same plot, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back! The names locations and period dress may change but the plots and heaving bosoms remained pretty much the same but her readers loved it. She sold over 1 billion copies in 36 languages allowing her to live in rococo and gilded splendour at her mansion Camfield Place.

Most people remember Barbra from her forays into the chat show world, the last two decades of her life, where her outrageous remarks, opinionated views (especially about how young “gels” should behave) and rampant snobbery made her a guest show favourite. She became a figure of fun and the laughter was often at her expense. This was not helped by her appearance always dressed in her trademark pink designed by dressmaker, to the Queen and Queen Mother, Norman Hartnell. She would descend on her host like a billowing pink frigate, with hair like candyfloss eyelashes askew make up like cement and a voice that could etch glass. Though the image was fluffy and pink underneath it all was a mind as sharp as her vowels. Like her mother, a dress shop owner. Who once said “we may be poor but we are not common!” She was a social climber who conducted a long affair with Earl Mountbatten and would leave one husband to marry his considerably wealthier cousin, later her social jostling would propel her daughter Raine to Vicountess Lewisham and ultimately Countess Spencer making her Stepmother to Diana Princess of Wales. There was also a compassionate side to Barbara for years she campaigned for the rights of Romany Gypsies opening the first official site for them on her land. She also campaigned for many years for the rights of nurses and midwives and was a staunch member of the St Johns Ambulance (who made her a Dame of the order of Jerusalem for her work) She was passionate about the environment and health foods advocating acupuncture and alternative medicine long before it became fashionable and to enforce her commitment to the enviroment she was, at her own request, buried in an enviromentaly friendly biodegradable cardboard coffin in her garden. Somewhat randomly she also invented the airmail glider in 1931 and as a result was awarded several aviation awards. She travelled extensively and remained active right up to her passing at 99, having just gone digital with her first website!
Entertaining though she was on television, its rather a shame that she will mostly be remembered as deranged old bat, dressed as a pink meringue when there was so much more to her.
Barbara Cartland we crown you, A Queen of Camp!
Find out more about Barbara at her website:
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