Books that changed my life: Barbara Taylor Bradford

Bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford has sold more than 88 million novels worldwide. Her new book, Master of His Fate, is out now, published by HarperCollins UK

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I first read this when I was about ten, and was captivated by Catherine and Heathcliff’s love affair. A few years later I understood it wasn’t simply a love story, but a novel about revenge and retribution. Haworth, where the Brontë sisters grew up and wrote their books, wasn’t too far away from Leeds. I pestered my mother to take me there, and finally, riding on three different buses, we arrived in the village, and visited the vicarage which had become a museum. I was fascinated by their early writings and their memorabilia.

 

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

What a revelation this novel was to me. Firstly, I was grabbed by the first few pages, and pulled into the book at once. Secondly, I was held by the attention to detail, the sense of time and place which Dickens seemingly created so easily. And thirdly, I understood how the protagonist of a novel could hold the reader’s interest right up until the last page. I believe that I learned a lot about writing from the many books by Dickens which I read.

 

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

This book had a great influence on me. I was pulled into the book by Scarlett O’Hara, captivated by the female protagonist, but also intrigued by the male characters, in particular Rhett Butler. This novel is character driven, as all of mine are, and I feel certain I picked up that technique very early in my writing career. It was Graham Green who said “character is plot,” and that is true. When I read that line, I translated it to “character is destiny”—your own character tells the story of your life.