Pat Barker: Biography

Pat Barker

08 maj 1943

Patricia Mary W. Barker is an English novelist born in 1943 in Yorkshire. She is the daughter of a working class mother and never knew the identity of her father. Her mother often told people that Pat was actually her sister, rather than admit that she was her illegitimate daughter. She spent the early years of her childhood living in her grandparents’ house, until her mother married.

After attending grammar school, Barker went on to study history at LSE. She met her husband, David Barker, a professor of zoology, in a pub and he went on to leave his wife to live with Barker.

Pat Barker began to write fiction when she was in her mid-twenties. The first three novels that she wrote were not published. Her first published work was titled Union Street and comprises seven stories of working class women in England who lives are somehow interconnected. The book was made into a Hollywood film which was called Stanley and Iris and starred Robert de Niro.

Barker’s most famous and most celebrated work is her trilogy of three short novels set in and around the First World War. The novels are fictional stories but are inspired by historical fact. The experience of the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen in a hospital for soldiers recovering from PTSD.

Pat Barker’s works have earned her many awards including the Fawcett Society prize for fiction, the Guardian First Book Award, and the prestigious Man Booker prize. She is still writing novels and her existing works continue to be recognized in lists such as The best 10 Historical Novels and 100 Books You Must Read Before You Die.