Correspondence from contemporary Georgette Heyer calls billion-selling author a 'petty thief'
Left - Georgette Heyer Biography by Jennifer Koestler
Heyer, who died in 1974, was an equally successful queen of historical romance who prided herself on her period research. She believed that Cartland – who by her death in 2000 had written more than 700 books, mostly set in the 19th century – had copied names, characters and plot details from her own work.
Unpublished correspondence from 1950 reveals Heyer's outrage at discovering from a fan the similarities between, among others, Cartland's Knave of Hearts – the third part of a Georgian trilogy – and her own These Old Shades, a Georgian romance novel.
Heyer wrote 56 novels that sold tens of millions of copies worldwide. She did not regard imitation as the sincerest form of flattery – firing off angry letters to her literary agent, Leonard Parker Moore, refusing to see why she should permit Cartland to steal her ideas and research.
"I think I could have borne it better had Miss Cartland not been so common-minded, so salacious and so illiterate," she wrote.
She continued: "For her main theme Miss Cartland has gone solely to These Old Shades but for various minor situations and other characters she has drawn upon four of my other novels."
The astonishing attack from beyond the grave will be published in October in a book titled Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller.
Its author, Jennifer Kloester, was given unprecedented access to correspondence by Heyer's family, and was "taken aback" by similarities between the authors. "You can't doubt the points Georgette was making … She was quite aghast at the borrowings."
Full fascinating story at The Guardian.