Writing a pen-picture of Clive Barker is a daunting task. A multi-talented playwright, artist, novelist, director whose persona and imagery is a complex web. So I’ll start with the fact that he was two years ‘below’ me at Quarry Bank High School and I have no recollection of him. A few years ago I visited my old English teacher, Norman Russell, who had taught Barker and been interviewed and quoted by his biographer, Douglas E Winter. Dr. Russell simply said that Barker was the nicest boy you could have imagined.
Clive Barker was born on 5th October 1952 to Len Barker and his wife Joan (née Revill ). Joan’s grandfather was Italian-born Rocco Peverelli, who had been the licensee of the Rocket Hotel in Broadgreen. Joan contracted whooping cough and was nursed by her grandfather who sadly contracted it himself and died aged 68. Len had come from a line of seafaring men and had himself served in the Royal navy during the Second World War. At the time of Clive’s birth the couple were living at 34 Oakdale Road L18, off Penny Lane, and Len was working for Harrison Shipping Line. The birth was a difficult one, involving a Caesarean section and in Winter’s biography Barker is quoted as believing that the trauma contributed to his unique reaction blood and horror.
He attended nearby Dovedale Road Primary School and then went on to Quarry Bank High School for Boys. As his father’s career progressed, he worked in personnel for BICC, the family moved to the archetypal semi-detached suburbia of 1 Rangemore Road L18 in Mossley Hill. Barker is quoted at length in Winter’s biography (an authorised publication) about his time at Quarry Bank and its clear that he hated much about the school. He was subject to bullying, by some staff as well as fellow-pupils and found solace in his creative pursuits. He was active in the school organising and participating in drama productions – referred to in some detail in Les Dennis’ autobiography Must The Show Go On ?. After Quarry Bank he attended Liverpool University studying English and Philosophy.
Involved in theatre in London, he eventually found success with his fantasy/horror fiction in the collected works Books of Bloods and the novel The Damnation Game. Thereafter he has ranged across literature, visual arts, film direction et al achieving huge international success and recognition. It would be pointless to attempt to summarise the breadth and variety of his work as any web search will provide extensive details and critique.
Barker's home at the time of his birth in 1952
The Barker family moved to this address in 1966.
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