Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Pioneers of Aerotowing, 1: Barbara Cartland
Cartland's early work was avowedly inspired by the racy novels of Elinor Glyn (of It Girl fame) and she belongs in the tradition of Marie Corelli, Ouida, Ethel M. Dell, and indeed the fictional Angel - a tradition that surely died with Dame Barbara. She also seems at one time to have drawn rather heavily on Georgette Heyer (a very much better writer), who in 1950 threatened a plagiarism suit.
To her credit, Dame Barbara did much good public work - especially during the war, when she served in the War Office in various charitable capacities, as well as being very active in the St John's Ambulance Brigade. Less well known is her contribution to aviation, as a pioneer of aerotowing (gliders towed by planes), a technique which was to play a part in winning the war.
Her daughter Raine's social success exceeded even her own, as she married Earl Spencer and became stepmother to Diana, Princess of Wales. Barbara and Diana didn't get on, and the Princess did not invite her step-grandmother to her wedding, but the pair had apparently made up by the time of Diana's death. Cartland reportedly said of the Princess: 'The only books Diana ever read were mine, and they weren't awfully good for her.'
I shall draw a veil over Dame Barbara's singing career - but, if you must, you can sample her warbling here...