Silence of the Girls (Barker) - Author Bio

Author Bio
Birth—May 8, 1943
Where—Thornaby-on-Tees, Yorkshire, England, UK
Education—B.A., London School of Economics
Awards—Man Booker Prize
Currently—lives in Durham, England


Patricia Mary W. Barker, CBE is an English writer and novelist. She has won many awards for her fiction, which centres on themes of memory, trauma, survival and recovery. Her work is described as direct, blunt and plainspoken. In 2012, The Observer named her Regeneration Trilogy as one of "The 10 best historical novels."

Personal life
Barker was born to a working-class family in Thornaby-on-Tees in the North Riding of Yorkshire, England. Her mother Moyra died in 2000, and her father's identity is unknown. According to The (London) Times, Moyra became pregnant "after a drunken night out while in the Wrens." In a social climate where illegitimacy was regarded with shame, she told people that the resulting child was her sister, rather than her daughter.

Mother and daughter lived with Barker's grandmother Alice until her mother married and moved out when Barker was seven. Barker chose to stay with her grandmother because of their bond and because, as she told The Guardian in 2003, "my stepfather didn't warm to me, nor me to him."

Her grandparents ran a fish and chip shop which failed, and the family was, she told The Times in 2007, "poor as church mice; we were living on National Assistance." At the age of eleven, Barker won a place at grammar school, attending King James Grammar School in Knaresborough and Grangefield Grammar School in Stockton-on-Tees.

Barker, who says she has always been an avid reader, studied international history at the London School of Economics from 1962-65 After graduating in 1965, she returned home to nurse her grandmother, who died in 1971.

In a pub, in 1969, Barker was introduced to David Barker, a zoology professor and neurologist 20 years her senior. He left his marriage to live with her, they had two children together, and were married in 1978 following his divorce. Barker was widowed when David died in January 2009. Their daughter Anna Barker Ralph is now a novelist.

Early work
Barker began to write fiction in her mid-20s. Although her first three novels were never published, in 1982, after 10 years of rejections, she finally found a publisher for Union Street. The book is an interlinked set of stories detailing the life of working-class women—stories that publishers told her they found "bleak and depressing."

On author Angela Carter's recommendation, Barker sent the manuscript to feminist publisher Virago, who accepted it. Upon its release, the New Statesman hailed Union Street as a "long overdue working class masterpiece," and the New York Times Book Review called it "first-rate, punchy and raunchy. The book remained one of Virago's top sellers for years and was later adapted as the Hollywood film Stanley and Iris, starring Robert De Niro and Jane Fonda.

Regeneration Trilogy
After publishing five novels, Barker turned her attention to the First World War, which she had always wanted to write about. In 1991 she published the first in her war trilogy: Regeneration, followed by The Eye in the Door (1993), and The Ghost Road (1995).

The books are an unusual blend of history and fiction, and Barker draws extensively on the writings of First World War poets and W.H.R. Rivers, an army doctor who worked with traumatized soldiers. The main characters are based on historical figures, with the exception of Billy Prior, whom Barker invented as both a parallel and a contrast to British soldier-poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

The books, which came to be called the "Regeneration Trilogy," were extremely well received by critics, and in 1995 the final book, The Ghost Road, won the Booker Prize.

Awards and recognition
In 1983, Barker won the Fawcett Society prize for fiction for Union Street. In 1993 she won the Guardian Fiction Prize for The Eye in the Door, and in 1995 she won the Booker Prize for The Ghost Road. In May 1997, Barker was awarded an honorary degree by the Open University as Doctor of the University, and in 2000, she was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/7/2018.)

Site by BOOM Boom Supercreative

LitLovers © 2020