A. L. Barker
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ISBN 9780571321995 Format Paperback
Published 29/10/2014 Length 208 pages

About Book

A. L. Barker's debut story collection appeared in 1947 and won the inaugural Somerset Maugham prize, instantly marking her out as a remarkable new talent. Each story describes a crisis in life; each reveals the impact of experience upon innocence, or vice versa.

'[Barker's] remarkable descriptive powers, her feeling for the exact word and the right combination of adjectives are most satisfyingly applied to the evocation of landscape ... Barker writes with a subtlety and precision which are as delightful as they are rare.' Times Literary Supplement

'This collection of eight short stories ... introduces an already assured and subtle stylist ... There is little pity here, but - if restrained - considerable terror and tragedy, and a precision of observation and treatment which qualify this collection for a critical, fastidious audience.' Kirkus Reviews

  • About A. L. Barker

    A. L. Barker (1918-2002) was a short story writer and novelist. Born in St Paul's Cray, Kent, she lived in the same milieu where London borders on Kent and Surrey, for the rest of her life. As her Oxford DNB entry says it was 'the chief setting for her work, which often seemed to partake of the quotidian mysteriousness and even abandonment of these areas.'

    Her first selection of short stories, Innocents, won the Somerset Maugham award in 1947. Of her short stories, Robert Nye has written, 'stories as carefully composed as poems, quiet and delicate and reserved perhaps, but oddly lingering in the mind.'

    Although a stranger to commercial success, she never wanted for admirers, Jane Gardam, Francis King, Auberon Waugh, Evelyn Waugh, Rebecca West, John Sutherland, Deborah Moggach, Ronald Blythe, Susan Hill, A. S. Byatt, Adam Mars-Jones, Nina Bawden and Victoria Glendinning being just some of them.

    A. L. Barker deserves to be better known. Faber Finds is proud to be reissuing her entire oeuvre, six volumes of short stories - Innocents, Novelette with Other Stories, Femina Real, Life Stories, No Words of Love and Element of Doubt - and thirteen novels - Apology for a Hero, A Case Examined, The Joy-Ride and After, Lost Upon the Roundabouts, The Middling, John Brown's Body, Source of Embarrassment, A Heavy Feather, Relative Successes, The Gooseboy, The Woman Who Talked to Herself, Zeph and The Haunt.

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