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A. L. Barker (Audrey, Lillian Barker) Biography

(1918– ), (Audrey, Lillian Barker), The Innocents, Apology for a Hero, The Middling, A Heavy Feather

British short-story writer and novelist, born in Kent. Her first highly praised collection of stories, The Innocents (1948), was followed by a novel, Apology for a Hero (1950). Further collections of stories confirmed her reputation as a leading practitioner of her craft; she also continued to experiment with form. The Middling (1967) and A Heavy Feather (1978) are fragmented narratives loosely linked by theme and perspective; A Source of Embarrassment (1974) is a tightly woven domestic satire; John Brown's Body (1969) is a taut tour de force of psychological unease. Praised by contemporaries such as Francis King and Rebecca West, Barker's novels and stories of the 1970s and 1980s present her distinctive tragi-comic vision with an increasing craftsmanship and economy of style, culminating in one of her finest novels, The Gooseboy (1987). The bitter levity of her vision is again displayed in The Woman Who Talked to Herself (1989); the book's subtitle, ‘An Articulated Novel’, fittingly sums up Barker's eclectic attitude to fictional form. Zeph (1992), an unconventional rites-of-passage novel, is the comic monologue of a young woman who, without any natural talent, determines to be a writer. Any Excuse for a Party (1991) is a retrospective collection of Barker's best short fiction, and Elements of Doubt (1992) collects her ghost stories.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Houston A. Baker (Houston Alfred to Sally Beauman Biography