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Pat Barker Biography

(1943– ), Union Street, Century's Daughter, Blow Your House Down

novels war lives street

British novelist, born in Thornaby-on-Tees, educated at the London School of Economics. Barker's early novels focused on the grim lives of working-class people in the north of England. Her first novel, Union Street (1982), was more a collection of linked stories about the lives of seven women on a working-class street in a northern English city. Though often shocking in its depiction of violence, poverty, and hopelessness, it also celebrates the courage and wit of women who hold their families and communities together. Century's Daughter (1986) chronicles the life of an elderly woman, born into a large impoverished family, who now lives in a decaying house due for demolition by the Council. Like most of Barker's work, it has a strong historical perspective; she links not only the woman's past and present, but the poverty of the early part of the century with the recession and unemployment in Britain in the 1980s. Her other novels of this period include Blow Your House Down (1984) and The Man Who Wasn't There (1989). Barker changed direction radically with an acclaimed trilogy of novels that deal with the effects of the First World War: Regeneration (1991), in which the torments of war are articulated in a therapeutic talking relationship between doctor and patient, The Eye in the Door (1993), in which the homosexuality of acclaimed public figures becomes the occasion for a witch-hunt, and The Ghost Road (1995; Booker Prize), a powerful treatment of the relativity of cultural and sexual values. All three novels are densely laden with the issues of the time: psychiatry and psychoanalysis, shell-shock, creative responses to war, and political intrigues in a rapidly changing age.

[back] Howard Barker Biography - (1946– ), Claw, Stripwell, That Good between Us, The Hang of the Gaol, Fair Slaughter

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