Barbara Taylor Bradford: Fifty Shades of Grey is “not even sexy”

Grand dame of British popular fiction lays into E L James' publishing sensation

It may have sold more than 70 million copies and inspired a Hollywood film, but El James’ erotic 2011 novel Fifty Shades of Grey has been dismissed as an awful book which is “not even sexy” by the grande dame of British popular fiction, Barbara Taylor Bradford.


In an interview with this week’s Radio Times, Taylor Bradford slams the book which is laden with explicitly erotic scenes and bondage as “terribly badly written reptetive and not even sexy” adding: “When the female character has her bottom smacked with a whip it’s the end of the book, except her saying, ‘Holy cow!’ [she mimics, sounding like a mewling cat] in excitement. The ‘hero’ is every woman’s worst nightmare, in my opinion, although he’s rich.”

Fifty Shades of Grey is the first instalment in the Fifty Shades trilogy that traces the relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young businessman called Christian Grey. So far the series has shifted 70 million books but, given its subject matter, the deuniciation by Tauylor Bradford is likely to sting.

In the interview Taylor Bradford also reveals that she has never has plastic surgery or Botox but is wary of jealous women.

“Some women can be a bit devious, especially if you’re successful,” she says. “They’re jealous and envious, although they’d be afraid to display that with me. I’d punch them in the face.”

Her first novel, A Woman of Substance published in 1979, has sold 31 million copies alone.

She has sold nearly 90 million copies of her oeuvre of 27 novels and boasts a fortune approaching £200 million.


Taylor Bradford appears in Secrets of the Workhouse which starts on ITV on June 25, revisiting some of the Victorian workhouses where her ancestors were housed.