Sex sells…or so they say. 50 Shades of Grey once flew off the shelves and now has been labeled as a book most commonly left in hotel rooms. Prolific author Barbara Cartland is the best selling romance author of all time and she kept things PG with virginal heroines set in historic times. Aside from her literary lasting power, Cartland left an amazing legacy behind—including a personal connection to the beloved Princess Diana. Here are 12 facts you may not know about her.
Prolific in Pink
Cartland is the most prolific writer of the 20th century. She published 723 books during her career which have been translated into 38 languages. There were 160 unpublished novels left behind when she died, all of which are currently in the process of being published by her son.
Best of the Best
William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie are the best selling authors of all time, having sold between 2 and 4 billion books each. Barbara Cartland is right behind them, clocking in with an estimated 1 billion sales—also making her the best selling romance author of all time.
Cartland was the step-grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales. Apparently, Diana was an unabashed fan of Cartland’s novels and, according to Cartland, read little else.
Though many remember her for romance novels, Cartland’s voice lives on in more than paperback words. She released a CD called Album of Love Songs. It features classic songs that she performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
When she wasn’t writing Cartland’s eyes were on the skies. Intrigued by the gliding movement, pilots flying unpowered aircrafts using naturally occurring currents of rising air, she performed a 200-mile tow in a two-seat glider in 1931. Her trip lead to the idea of troop-carrying gliders. In 1984, she was awarded the Bishop Wright Air Industry Award for her contribution to aviation.
My Goodness, My Guinness
For the last forty years, Cartland has held the Guinness World record for the most books published in a single year—24.
In honor of nearly 70 years of literary, political, and social contributions, Cartland was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991.
During the Second World War, Cartland bought over 1,000 wedding dresses so that brides in the services could marry in a white gown.
Paris Loves Her
In 1988, Cartland received the highest award given by the city of Paris—La Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris (the Gold Medal of Paris)—for her 25 million books sold in France.
Education For All
Cartland campaigned for the rights of UK gypsies to have a permanent place to live. A gypsy camp called Barbaraville was opened in 1964, allowing gypsy children to be educated in the local schools for the first time since the gypsies first came to England in the 16th century.
Her political novel, Sleeping Swords, was the first work of fiction to be accepted into the House of Commons Library.
Ready For Her Close-up
These days it seems normal to catch the new James Patterson release while channel surfing, but Cartland was the first author to promote her books using television commercials.
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.