Bradford, Barbara Taylor: Act of Will
(researched by Denise DeBrock)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Barbara Taylor Bradford. Act of Will. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1986. Copyright © 1986 by Barbara Taylor Bradford.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition appears to be published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
192 leaves, pp. [8] [1-3] 4-13 [14-17] 18-363 [364-67] 368-74 [2]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
It is neither edited nor introduced.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
It is not illustrated.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The general appearance of the text is nice. It is easy to read type, approx. 90R measurement (appears to be a Palatino script). The print has held up well, no smudges or smearing of the text.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is cream-colored, thicker weight, nice quality smoothness but not a slick sheen to it. The paper is holding up well over time, only showing some edgewear with no torn pages (the edgewear may be more from the weight of the paper than from repeated readings of the text).
11 Description of binding(s)
Binding consists of black boards and a red cloth spine, with gold embossed label. A double set of gold lines at 4.5cm set space for the author name and book title, enclosed by another set of gold lines at 10.5cm; another set of double gold lines at 18.5cm sets space for publishing company name towards the bottom of the spine. The dust jacket is in good condition, consisting of a red background for the front cover and spine, with the author's picture on the back cover. The author's name and book title are in large gold letters, with a black and gold set of lines separating the two (within the black and gold bands it states AUTHOR OF "HOLD THE DREAM"); author's name and book title in gold type on the spine; only signs of wear are a tear and bend in the back cover, and edgewear along spine and front cover of dust jacket.
12 Transcription of title page
Half-title leaf Recto: ACT OF WILL Half-title leaf Verso: Also by Barbara Taylor Bradford | HOLD THE DREAM | VOICE OF THE HEART | A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE Recto: Barbara Taylor Bradford | Act of Will | Doubleday & Company, Inc. | Garden City, New York | 1986 Verso: DESIGNED BY LAURENCE ALEXANDER Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data | Bradford, Barbara Taylor, 1933- | Act of will. | 1. Title | PS3552.R2147A63 1986 813'.54 86-6185 | ISBN 0-385-18129-9 | Copyright © 1986 by Barbara Taylor Bradford | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED | PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA | FIRST EDITION Dedication page: Dedicated with love to the memory of my parents, | Freda and Winston Taylor. She gave me the greatest | gift a mother can give a child, the desire to excel. | He taught me to be strong of heart and to stand tall. | It is also for my husband Bob, whose love and support | has equalled theirs, with all of my love.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
All of Barbara Taylor Bradford's papers are housed in the Brotherton Manuscript Collection at the University of Leeds Library. The author originally donated her materials in 1988, and made her most most recent donation to the collection in July 2005. The collection summary notes indicate holdings of 4 boxes of manuscript annotations, drafts, and author's notes from "Act of Will".
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
I was able to find listings for the following editions from Doubleday: 1986 "Book Club Edition", 343 pages 1986 "Large Print Book Club Edition", 729 pages 1986 Doubleday Canada edition, 384 pages
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
I could not find information indicating how many printings or impressions were made of the first edition.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
1986 ? Grafton (London), 1st British Edition, Hardback, 416 pages, ISBN: 0-246-12068-1 1987 ? Grafton, paperback, 526 pages, ISBN: 0586058508 (* I also found a June 1987 Harper Collins Mass Market Paperback Reissue with the same ISBN) February 1987 ? Bantam Books, Mass Market Paperback, 406 pages, ISBN: 0-553-17317-0 June 1987 ? Bantam Paperback, ISBN: 0-553-26543-1 August 1987 ? Gale Group (Macmillan Reference USA), Hardback, large type, 653 pages, ISBN: 0-8161-4242-4 1987 ? G. K. Hall, Boston, Large Print, 582 pages, ISBN: 0816142416 1992 -- Barbara Taylor Bradford : Three Complete Novels (Hold the Dream, To Be The Best, Act Of Will). Wings Books ; Avenel, N.J. (Distributed by Outlet Book Co.), 1026 pages, ISBN: 0517084708 1993 ? A Woman of Substance/Act of Will ? Diamond Books (Omnibus Edition), London, 832 pages, ISBN: 0 261 66167 1 December 1994 ? Morrow/Avon (Harper Torch imprint) 448 pages, ISBN: 0-06-100811-7 March 2001 ? Harper Collins Publishers, Ltd., 528 pages, ISBN: 0-586-05850-8 October 2005 ? St. Martin's Press, Mass Market Paperbound, 432 pages, ISBN: 0-312-93560-9 December 2005 ? St. Martin's Press, Trade Paperback, 432 pages, ISBN: 0-312-35542-4 * I found that a Braille edition of Act of Will exists, but could not locate further bibliographic information on it. (Information obtained from World Cat, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Alibris, Abe Books, and other online bookstores)
6 Last date in print?
Act of Will is still in print as of May 2006
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
I was unable to locate a cumulative sales figure for Act of Will.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Publishers Weekly on June 27,1986 stated an initial printing of 250,000 copies. A New York Times article on October 26,1986 stated sales of 3 ½ million copies. Publishers Weekly on June 12,1987 stated initial printing of 2,125,000 copies of the Bantam Mass Market paperback of Act of Will.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Publishers Weekly had a 2-page spread on January 31,1986 with Doubleday's upcoming releases. A Picture of Barbara Taylor Bradford with the headline "#1 in Fiction" was the center feature on the 1st page of this ad. Publishers Weekly also had numerous advertisements for chain bookstores (i.e. Barnes & Noble) which featured bestsellers at reduced prices. Act of Will was often in the list of books these stores had in stock, and sometimes the book cover was shown in a picture. The largest advertisement I was able to find for Act of Will was from June 18,1986. Doubleday placed a full-page ad on page c25 of the New York Times. The upper text reads: "You loved A Woman of Substance. You adored Voice of the Heart. You couldn't resist Hold the Dream. And you'll never, ever forget " Then there is an image of an overturned copy of Act of Will, so that you can see both the front cover title and the back cover picture of Barbara Taylor Bradford. At the bottom left-hand corner is a inset over the book image, with the tag "The new immediate bestseller!" Below the image is the following text: " With her latest work, Barbara Taylor Bradford reaches heights more towering, more dazzling than ever before. Set in Yorkshire, London, and New York against a backdrop of art, artists, and haute couture, ACT OF WILL is the story of three generations of women: mothers and daughters whose dreams and destinies may differ, but whose love and spirited determination bind them together forever." The next line of text is a reviewer's quote: "Pure gold ? certain to be a runaway best seller." ? Carol E. Rinzler, Cosmopolitan At the bottom of the page it says that the book is a Literary Guild Main Selection and a Doubleday Book Club Main Selection. The Doubleday name is in large bold letters off to the right-hand bottom of the page.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Movie: 1989 (made for British television) / 2006 dvd release ? Infinity Entertainment, 2 discs, 245 minutes; starring Victoria Tennant, Don Sharp, Peter Coyote, Elizabeth Hurley, Kevin McNally, and Serena Gordon; distributed by Tango Entertainment, ISBN: 1-598371282 2 Audio Cassette releases: January 1994 ? Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Limited (UK) 12 cassettes, 15 hrs., ISBN: 1-85695-715-2 September 1998 ? ISIS Audio Books (Unabridged Edition), Read by Diana Bishop, 12 cassettes, 14 hours 30 minutes, ISBN: 1-8565-95715-2 2 Audio CD releases: May 2000 ? ISIS Audio Books, English, Diana Bishop (narrator), ISBN: 0-753-10974-3 April 2001 ? Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Limited (UK) 14 cds, 14 hrs., ISBN: 0-7531-0974-3
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
1987 ? Fuerza de voluntad. Buenos Aires (Spanish) 1987 ? Quand le destin bascule. Paris (French) 1987 ? Wer Liebe sat. Reinbeck (German) 1987 ? Forca de vontade. Rio de Janeiro (Portuguese) 1987 ? Erfenis van een vrouw. Utrecht (Dutch) 1987 ? Naisen tahto. Helsinki (Finnish) (also 1993) 1988 ? Fuerza de voluntad. Barcelona (Spanish) (also 1990, 1993) 1988 ? I nodi del destino. Milan (Italian) (also 1991, 2000) 1988 ? Koah ratson. Tel Aviv (Hebrew) 1989 ? Fuerza de voluntad. Libros para Todos, United States (Spanish) 1989 ? Bara till lans. Stockholm (Swedish) 1991 ? Akt woli. Gdansk (Polish) (also 1995 published in Warszawa) 1991 ? Kadinin gucu= (Act of will) : roman. Istanbul (Turkish) 1995 ? Volevoi postupok ? Moscow (Russian) 1995 ? Ai mang lai tinh yeu: Nghe An (Vietnamese) (also 2001 published in Ha Noi) (Information obtained from World Cat)
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Barbara Taylor Bradford was born on May 10, 1933 in Upper Armley, in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. She was the only child of Freda and Winston Taylor. Her mother had been both a children's nurse and nanny, and nurtured a love of literature in Barbara from an early age. (Barbara has said that her mother was most like Audra in Act of Will, and her father shared some of Vincent's traits.) Barbara published her first short story at the age of 10. Her father had refused to buy her a pony which she wanted, so in retaliation she wrote a story in which a little girl who dreams of owning a pony receives one from her father. As related in a 2003 interview with Scribes World, once she sold the story to a children's magazine for ten shillings and sixpence, she knew her fate was to become a writer. She attended Christ Church Elementary School and Northcote Private School for Girls, but did not go on to higher education. Instead she went to work at the age of 15 as a typist for the Yorkshire Evening Post. She worked her way up the ranks at the newspaper, eventually becoming the Woman's Page Editor at the age of 18. When she was 20, she moved to London and was the Fashion Editor of Woman's Own magazine. Later she shifted careers again, and became a reporter for London's Evening News. She met her future husband, Robert Bradford, by chance in 1961 (there are conflicting reports of how the met, but as Piers Dudgeon writes in The Woman of Substance, Barbara and Bob were set up by friends and it was love at first sight). They married 2 years later (December 24, 1963), and moved to Bob's home in New York City. Barbara maintains dual British and American citizenship, and they reside in a spacious apartment in Manhattan. Bob is a producer and has been responsible for 10 of Barbara's novels being turned into movies (including Act of Will). Barbara suffered a miscarriage early into their marriage and has not been able to have children since because of complications. Instead she says that she lavishes her domestic attentions on Bob, their home, and their two Bichon Frise dogs, Chammi and Beaji (short for Champagne and Bijoux). Her numerous publications include: Designing Woman ? a syndicated column on home decorating (throughout the 70s) Complete Encyclopedia of Homemaking Ideas (1968) How to Be the Perfect Wife (1969) Easy Steps To Successful Decorating (1971) Luxury Designs for Apartment Living (1981) A Woman of Substance (1979) Voice of the Heart (1983) Hold The Dream (1985) Act of Will (1986) To Be the Best (1988) The Women in His Life (1990) Remember (1991) Angel (1993) Everything To Gain (1994) Dangerous To Know (1995) Love In Another Town (1995) Her Own Rules (1996) A Secret Affair (1996) Power of A Woman (1997) A Sudden Change of Heart (1999) Where You Belong (2000) The Triumph 0f Katie Byrne (2001) Three Weeks In Paris (2002) Emma's Secret (2003) Unexpected Blessings (2004) Just Rewards (2005) Barbara Taylor Bradford has worked with several publishers throughout the course of her career. Consistently good sales, along with the negotiating talents of her husband Bob and her longtime literary agent Mort Janklow, have allowed Barbara to set record deals with her publishing contracts (most notably the $24 million/3 book deal she made in 1992 with Harper Collins). According to her official website, Barbara holds the distinction that among her 21 fiction titles, "all (are) bestsellers, (with) over 75 million copies sold in over 40 languages and more than 90 countries." Along with her monetary success, Barbara has received numerous honors for her career achievements. Among these are Honorary Doctorates of Letters from Leeds University, the University of Bradford in Yorkshire, and Connecticut's Teikyo Post University. She has also received the New York Women in Communication's Matrix Award (1985), the British Excellence Award (1998), and was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America in 2003. Barbara likes to stay involved with the community and donate time and effort to charitable organizations, such as Meals-On-Wheels, the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation, and the March of Dimes. She was recognized by Earth Times Monthly Magazine for her success and positive example as one of "New York's Most Influential Women" (along with Bette Midler, Hillary Clinton, Diane Sawyer, and others). __________ __________ Several sources which were very useful in obtaining this information are: Barbara Taylor Bradford's Official Website -- http://www.barbarataylorbradford.com/ Dudgeon, Piers. The Woman of Substance: The Life and Works of Barbara Taylor Bradford. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 2005. Literature Resource Center ? "Barbara Taylor Bradford" profile in Contemporary Authors Online. link Marquis Who's Who online ? http://search.marquiswhoswho.com.proxy2.library.uiuc.edu/executable/SearchResults.aspx?db=E
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Act of Will became a best seller, but its initial reviews were mixed. Often critics were disappointed by this novel not living up to their expectations. Some panned it for simply delivering the same old story that Bradford had already written (only in their opinions it was told in better ways in her previous novels A Woman of Substance and Hold The Dream). As noted in Publisher's Weekly, "though enjoyable, Bradford's latest novel lacks the sweep and grandeur that characterized her (previous) bestsellers." Booklist and Library Journal both had mostly positive reviews. The advance review in the May 1, 1986 Booklist heaps nothing but praise on the novel, predicting its eventual placement on the best seller list. "This novel continues the Bradford tradition of spirited romances peopled with memorable, self-made women?(it) moves seamlessly from Depression-era England to modern-day New York." Judith Gifford's review in LJ also surmised Act of Will to be a satisfying read for fans of Barbara Taylor Bradford's work, though even they would wish for more from the story (in particular the development of granddaughter Kyle could be given more attention). The most negative and sarcastic reaction I found was from Andrew Postman of The New York Times. His review on July 20, 1986 stated the following: "Throughout 'Act of Will', major characters are ignored for chapters at a time and events occur with almost breathtaking predictability. That may be its secret. Barbara Taylor Bradford, whose fans number somewhere in the octillions, manages uncannily to do precisely what good storytelling does not - to make a ''sweeping'' saga parochial and to prevent her characters from achieving lives of their own." Citations: Postman, Andrew. "Act of will." The New York Times Book Review 20 Jul. 1986: 18. Gifford, Judith A. "Act of will." Library Journal 16 Jul. 1986: 104. "Act of will." Publishers Weekly 2 May 1986: 64. "Act of Will." (Book Review) Booklist 1 May 1986: 1257.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Act of Will became a best seller, but its initial reviews were mixed. Often critics were disappointed by this novel not living up to their expectations. Some panned it for simply delivering the same old story that Bradford had already written (only in their opinions it was told in better ways in her previous novels A Woman of Substance and Hold The Dream). As noted in Publisher's Weekly, "though enjoyable, Bradford's latest novel lacks the sweep and grandeur that characterized her (previous) bestsellers." Booklist and Library Journal both had mostly positive reviews. The advance review in the May 1, 1986 Booklist heaps nothing but praise on the novel, predicting its eventual placement on the best seller list. "This novel continues the Bradford tradition of spirited romances peopled with memorable, self-made women?(it) moves seamlessly from Depression-era England to modern-day New York." Judith Gifford's review in LJ also surmised Act of Will to be a satisfying read for fans of Barbara Taylor Bradford's work, though even they would wish for more from the story (in particular the development of granddaughter Kyle could be given more attention). The most negative and sarcastic reaction I found was from Andrew Postman of The New York Times. His review on July 20, 1986 stated the following: "Throughout 'Act of Will', major characters are ignored for chapters at a time and events occur with almost breathtaking predictability. That may be its secret. Barbara Taylor Bradford, whose fans number somewhere in the octillions, manages uncannily to do precisely what good storytelling does not - to make a ''sweeping'' saga parochial and to prevent her characters from achieving lives of their own." Citations: Postman, Andrew. "Act of will." The New York Times Book Review 20 Jul. 1986: 18. Gifford, Judith A. "Act of will." Library Journal 16 Jul. 1986: 104. "Act of will." Publishers Weekly 2 May 1986: 64. "Act of Will." (Book Review) Booklist 1 May 1986: 1257.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The ultimate question for this research is: what do we learn about bestsellers by looking at Barbara Taylor Bradford's Act of Will? One could look at this novel and a slew of other works on the bestsellers list throughout the 1980s, and conclude that readers were enamored with grand glittering romance novels. Throughout the decade you can repeatedly find romance novels by Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel, Jackie Collins, and Barbara Taylor Bradford on the bestsellers list. The stories told in Hollywood Wives, Wanderlust, and Act of Will are typical of these bestselling romances of the 1980s in that they all focus on the lives of the wealthy and powerful. Historically, the United States was in the midst of "Reaganomics" and its promised rejuvenation of the economy. This is the time in our history in which the phrase "Greed?is Good" was made popular by Michael Douglas' character "Gordon Gekko" in the movie Wall Street. Big business, big money, and the glamorous life were all parts of the collective national interests. President Reagan himself was an actor who was able to parlay his fame into a political career. Meanwhile, internationally the press followed and scrutinized the lives of royalty, most notably the trials and tribulations of Princess Diana. A similar fascination with the lives of the rich and famous can be seen in the popular nighttime television dramas of the era, from Dallas to Dynasty to Falcon Crest. Along with the dramas, Ruthless People, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and Back to School are just three of the comedic theatrical releases which also focus on the fictionalized world of the rich and famous. With such a massive cultural interest focused on the perceived "lifestyles of the rich and famous", some authors promoted themselves as living the glitzy life which they wrote about. As noted in several entries in the Bestsellers Database, Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel both thrive on their glamorous public personas. Barbara Taylor Bradford also cultivates a public image of wealth and prestige. From their estate in England to their posh Manhattan apartment, Bradford and her producer-husband both work to promote this high style persona. Maintaining this glamorous image works in turn to promote the authors and keep them in the public eye between book releases. With this popular fixation on the glamorous life, and its repeated depiction in various forms of mass-media entertainment throughout the 1980s, as well as the recurring appearance of authors like Stephen King, James Michener, and Tom Clancy on the bestsellers list, you could also come to the conclusion that a predictable plot is essential to be a bestseller. With the same authors finding themselves repeatedly on the bestsellers list (sometimes with multiple works on the list in the same year), they must have found the "right formula" to keep readers coming back for more. In the genre of romance, Bradford, Collins, and Steel have each developed a strong fan-base with their readers. The fans of these authors know that they can rely on them to deliver an easy to read escapist novel, featuring strong women and the men they love, usually filled with detailed accounts of the luxury that their fictional world abounds with. Time and again these readers purchase the works of their favorite authors, regardless of critical literary reviews. Act of Will can be seen as evidence of this strong fan-base, with the novel's reviews running the gamut from praise to condemnation, but sales soaring as with Bradford's previous novels. References: Amazon.com IMDB.com Wikipedia.org
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