Credit: Shutterstock/Jacqueline Susann

I can’t die without leaving something – something big

The first writer to have three consecutive number one bestsellers on the New York Times Bestsellers list, Valley of the Dolls novelist Jacqueline Susann became a crowd-pulling celebrity.

In the 1960s, she was the first author to actively promote her books in high-profile ways, making well-publicised bookstore tours, and appearing on radio and television shows to talk about her books.

This led to massive sales – the subversive Valley of the Dolls, published in 1966 and still in print today, has sold over 31 million copies.

Jacqueline was born and raised in Philadelphia, by her mother, a schoolteacher, and father, a painter. She was always a gifted child, scoring 140 in a IQ test when she was 11. She had dreams of being an actress, and this ambition sustained her until she was diagnosed with cancer in 1962. Her diary entry for that day read: “I can’t die without leaving something—something big...I have a dream. I think I can write. Let me live to make it!”

She vowed that if she was given 10 more years to live, she would write the bestselling book of all time. And she succeeded: The year Jacqueline died, the Guinness Book of Records cited the Valley of the Dolls as the most successful book in publishing history.