A Woman of Substance 2015

Barbara & Joanne Small

From Left to Right: Barbara Taylor Bradford and Joanne King Herring

On Wednesday April 8, 2015, literary enthusiasts gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel Downtown for afternoon tea with Barbara Taylor Bradford and Joanne King Herring. Among the audience was former first lady and longtime friend of Barbara Taylor Bradford, Barbara Bush. The Women’s Home Board President Brenda White and Joanne King Herring, who is an accomplished diplomat and the granddaughter of The Women’s Home founder, Mrs. Laura Sampson, opened the tea with a few words about The Home’s mission for an audience of familiar and new faces. Ernie Manouse, host of PBS’s InnerVIEWS served as the MC, moving throughout the room taking questions from the audience. Joanne and Barbara entertained guests with anecdotes of their early careers, including Barbara’s recounting of when she first met Mrs. Bush and how a spill down the stairs landed her at the feet of the former first lady. Joanne recounting her time as a news anchor, a position she achieved while promoting The Home to news networks, said it felt like always running quarterback to be heard in a male dominated field.

Among the guests were both long time readers of Bradford’s work as well as new followers, including mothers who had passed the books along to their daughters. Bradford when asked on her writing process, explained she keeps track of her characters using notecards for reference, pinning her main cast to a corkboard in her work space and keeping the rest at hand in a Manolo shoebox. On being asked about how she dealt with the increasingly tricky issue of protecting her intellectual property in the age of the internet, Bradford recounted an extended legal battle she and her husband, Robert Bradford undertook upon learning one of Robert’s film adaptations of her novels was being reproduced without their knowledge in India.

Questions drew to a close on the subject of childhood literacy, when discussion turned to Bradford’s The Write Stuff short story competition for young girls in the UK and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy which provides literacy programs for adults and children across the U.S. Herring brought the tea to a neat finish thanking Bradford and inviting guests to purchase Bradford’s latest novel, The Cavendon Women at the back where Bradford would sign.