Book with character based on Hatfield’s Dame Barbara Cartland branded ‘nice idea’ by her son

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 April 2013

Barbara Cartland with her son Ian

Barbara Cartland with her son Ian


A BOOK has been released featuring a character based on Hatfield author Dame Barbara Cartland.

Irene Cornes, who uses the pen name Irene Panter, wrote The Contessa’s Last Dance after meeting the famed romance writer shortly before her death.

During their conversation Dame Barbara revealed a different side of her personality, and inspired the character.

And Dame Barbara’s son, Ian McCorquodale, agreed to proofread the book, which he branded “a nice idea”.

Mrs Cornes, who lives in London and is retired, said: “She [Dame Barbara] was most helpful and not at all as you would imagine she would be.

“Not all pink dress and romance novels - she was quite serious and had a lot to say; she was most interesting.

“We talked a lot about what it was like living between the two wars and how many men were killed.

“She said it wasn’t just the men, it was the tragedies they left behind as well.

“Mothers without sons, wives without husbands and women who were engaged all left to a life of service and, she thought, looked down upon by society.

“The book is based on what she told me while I was having tea with her.”

The historical romance centres around the Contessa Marie Concetti, based on Dame Barbara.

Mrs Cornes describes the book as “a study in jealousy and a lament for the elderly of an England that has gone.”

“There is also a love story,” she added.

To ensure the character was as true to life as possible, Mrs Cornes asked Ian, Dame Barbara’s son, to proof-read the book for her.

Mr McCorquodale, who lives in Hatfield, said:“I thought she wrote it very well.”

“My mother was a larger than life character, I thought it [the book] was a very nice idea.

“But I must confess she has a few character traits I don’t remember my mother having.”

The Contessa’s Last Dance is available to buy from

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