The novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford tells The Telegraph about being the only female in the reporters’ room and her surprise turn as a model in 1950

This photo was taken in Leeds, when I was 17 and a fashion editor as well as a reporter for the Yorkshire Evening Post. I had gone to look at a new collection at a fashion house for a piece about summer clothes, but it turned out that the model had called in sick. So the photographer said to me, ‘Come on Barbara, you get into the frock.’

I sort of looked at him and then at the owner, who said, ‘Oh Barbara, I’m sure it will fit you. You’re very slim.’

So they took me into a dressing room, I took off my skirt and blouse, and put on the frock – and it did fit me. When I came out, everybody clapped, which made me very self-conscious. 

The photographer, who was jokey but sweet, posed me all over the room and then had this brilliant idea. He looked at the cupboard, opened it and said, ‘You know what would be nice? I’d like to see you coming out of the cupboard, it might make an amusing picture.’

So that’s what I did. That was the only time I ever modelled a dress. I never did it again and I never wanted to. I thought to myself at the time, ‘I’m glad I’m a writer and on the other side of the camera.’ Not knowing that in years to come, I would be constantly photographed.