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Barry Hines (Melvin Barry Hines) Biography

(1939– ), (Melvin Barry Hines), The Blinder, A Kestrel for a Knave, Kes, The Gamekeeper

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Hersey Biography to Honest Man's Revenge

British novelist, born in Hyland Common, near Barnsley, the son of a miner, educated at Ecclesfield Grammar School. He played football for Barnsley, while working variously as an apprentice mining surveyor, a labourer, and a blacksmith's assistant, then attended Loughborough College of Education. Hines emerged as a writer in the wake of northern working-class novelists like Sillitoe and Braine, and his realism and political concerns are those of the ‘angry young men’. His first novel, The Blinder (1966), considers professional football as a means of escape from working-class life. A Kestrel for a Knave (1968), better known as Kes, the title under which it was filmed and reprinted in 1974, is set in a working-class environment in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and shows a deprived young boy, Billy Casper, lavishing care on a hawk; Billy's life is developed in a series of flashbacks in which he comes constantly into conflict with authority but, in his struggle to remain himself, there is a dignity and a fragile optimism. The Gamekeeper (1975) follows the daily round of a gamekeeper, George Purse, on a ducal estate in the north of England; despite his escape from the degrading industrial world, Purse cannot escape from the web of social hierarchy and has, in his heartless pursuit of poachers and collusion with the Duke, turned against his own class. The Price of Coal (1979) is a satirical account of a Royal Visit to a colliery. Hines continues his themes of traditional working-class communities in the north of England coming to terms with change in Looks and Smiles (1981), which centres on the problems of three young people faced with poverty during the Thatcher years; Unfinished Business (1983); and The Head of It (1994).

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