Dame Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland, DBE, CStJ, (9 July 1901 – 21 May 2000) was a successful English author, known for her numerous romance novels. She also became one of the United Kingdom's most popular media personalities, appearing often at public events and on television, dressed in her trademark pink and discoursing on love, health and social issues. Other than her fictional romance books, she also wrote health and cookery books, and stage plays and recorded an album of love songs. She was often billed as the Queen of Romance.
Born at 31 Augustus Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, she was the only daughter and eldest child of a British army officer, Major Bertram Cartland (born 1876 died 27 May 1918), and his wife, Mary Polly Hamilton Scobell. Though she was born into an enviable degree of middle-class comfort, the family's security was severely shaken after the suicide of her paternal grandfather, James Cartland, a financier, who shot himself in the wake of bankruptcy.
This was followed soon after by her father's death on a Flanders battlefield in World War I. However, her enterprising mother opened a London dress shop to make ends meet — "Poor I may be," Polly Cartland once remarked, "but common I am not" — and to raise Cartland and her two brothers, Anthony and Ronald, both of whom were eventually killed in battle, one day apart, in 1940.