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Pink Virgins

“You can’t lose if you give them handsome highwaymen, duels, 3-foot fountains and whacking great horses and dogs all over the place.” Barbara Cartland.

It may sound odd in today’s literary climate of `anything goes,’ but Dame Barbara (1901 – 2000) wrote about heroines who were unrelentingly chaste and pure. And to prove how popular this concept was, by the mid 90’s her 723 novels had sold more than a billion copies.  Earlier, in 1983 the Guinness Book of Records named her the top-selling author in the world and today she is the 3rd best-selling author of all time after Shakespeare and Agatha Christie.

It seemed that Dame Barbara cornered the romance market from day one with her first novel, JIGSAW, in 1922. The book took off like a rocket and quickly became a best seller. By the mid-1990’s she was named `The true Queen of Romance’ by Vogue magazine and by then her career as a romance author had spanned 70+ years.

When she passed away in May, 2000, she left behind 160 unpublished novels which her son, Ian McCorquodale, has since published as the `Pink Collection.’  While the general taste of romance readers has mainly moved on from chaste and pure heroines to more explicit bed-hopping modern young things, there is still a substantial niche following, eager to get their hands on anything penned by the Queen of Romance and so the Pink Collection continues to flourish in that particular market.

It’s rather nice, really. It’s said that fashion has a way of coming full circle. I wonder if, in a few years, the niche market might actually have transferred to the steaming hot, sex-charged, love fests of today with the mass market demanding more of the sweet pink virgins ilk.

Doris Lessing said: `There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.’

I suppose, as long as there are readers, Dame Barbara’s pink virgins will continue to hold their share of shelf space for the pink fluffy romantics among us. Hands up, pink fluffies…

Oh, well, no point in being coy, my hand is up, how about yours?


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