Novelist Pat Barker

PAT Barker, 65, was born in Teesside and educated at the London School of Economics where she read international history, and at Durham University.

Pat Barker

PAT Barker, 65, was born in Teesside and educated at the London School of Economics where she read international history, and at Durham University. She taught history and politics until 1982.

Pat began to write in her mid-20s and was encouraged to pursue her career as a writer by the novelist Angela Carter.

Her early works, including her first novel Union Street, winner of a Fawcett Society Book Prize, dealt with the harsh lives of working-class women living in the North. Pat’s trilogy of novels about the First World War began with Regeneration in 1991 (made into a film starring Jonathan Pryce and James Wilby). The Eye in the Door (1993) won the Guardian Fiction Prize and The Ghost Road (1995), the final novel in the series, won the Booker Prize for Fiction.

She was made a CBE in 2000. Her last book, Life Class, revisits the First World War through the eyes of an arts student.

Pat was widowed last year when her husband David Barker, emeritus professor of Zoology at Durham University, died. She has two children, John, 39, and Anna, 36. a former writer for The Journal.

Where do you live?

In a Victorian terrace in Durham City.

How long have you lived there?

For about 12 years.

What’s your dream home?

A villa somewhere hot with a pool.

How do you get around (walk, car, public transport, private jet)?

I walk and if not, I take the train.

What is your favourite part of the North East?

The Farne Islands. I love the birds and the wilderness . I took a friend up there a few years back and told him to bring a hood. He didn’t and had blood drawn from his scalp.

What is your favourite building in the region?

Durham Cathedral.

What is the best holiday you’ve ever had?

The first of married life in a tiny caravan. It was the best because it was the first. We were so poor it was all we could afford but it was glorious.

What’s the favourite thing in your home?

Two things. I have two carved wooden heads which came from a Victorian staircase. They are large and striking. We got them second-hand and they are powerful pieces. I like to believe they are representations of the Green Man.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on the second draft of a novel. It’s the second one of a trilogy or maybe a quartet.

Who or what is the love of your life?

My husband David.

Where is your favourite place in the North East?

The causeway leading from the mainland to Holy Island because it’s such a romantic place. I used to think it was romantic when people got their vehicles stuck on the causeway, until someone told me it was often an insurance scam!

What is your favourite shop?

Mugwump in Durham City.

What is your favourite restaurant?

The Fallen Angel in Durham. I like the food, but also the wonderful view of the cricket ground. I love the eccentric decoration.

Favourite pub?

The Half Moon in Durham. It is an unspoilt old- fashioned pub.

Favourite meal?

Sea bass.

Are you any good at cooking? Do you spend much time in your kitchen?

I spend absolutely no time in the kitchen. I try to eat out whenever possible. I do eat healthily when I eat in, foods like salads which take little preparation. I can’t be bothered to cook for one.

What’s the last play or film you saw?

I saw A Serious Man last night. It was fantastic, a lovely script by the Cohen brothers.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I got into Gulliver’s Travels again because I’ve been sorting books out and re-reading.

What are you listening to on your I-Pod/CD player at the moment?

Jeff Buckley, I’ve got an obsession with his version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

What is your favourite TV programme?

Wire in the Blood. I like the interplay between the two main characters.

What are you proudest of?

I think having survived the first year of bereavement since my husband passed away last January.

When and where were you happiest?

Mallorca, Spain, on holiday with my husband.

Do you have any wisdom to share?

As soon as people start thinking they’re wise they might as well die because they have stopped learning.


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