George Barker

George Barker (1913-1991). Courtesy PoemHunter.

George Barker
Occupation Poet
Nationality United Kingdom English

George Granville Barker (26 February 1913 - 27 October 1991) was an English poet and prose author.


Barker was born in Loughton, near Epping Forest in Essex, England, elder brother of the painter Kit Barker. He was raised by his Irish mother and English father in Battersea, London. He was educated at a London County Council school and at Regent Street Polytechnic. Having left school at an early age he pursued several odd jobs before settling on a career in writing. Early volumes of note by Barker include Thirty Preliminary Poems (1933), Poems (1935) and Calamiterror (1937), which was inspired by the Spanish Civil War.

In his early twenties, Barker had already been published by T.S. Eliot at Faber & Faber, who also helped him to gain appointment as Professor of English Literature in 1939 at Tohoku University (Sendai, Miyagi, Japan). He left there in 1940 due to the hostilities, but wrote Pacific Sonnets during his tenure.

He then travelled to the United States where he began his longtime liaison with Canadian poet Elizabeth Smart, by whom he had four of his fifteen children. Barker also had three children by his first wife, Jessica.[1] He returned to England in 1943. From the late 1960s until his death, he lived in Itteringham, Norfolk, with his wife Elspeth Barker, the novelist. In 1969, he published the poem At Thurgarton Church, the village of Thurgarton being a few miles from Itteringham.

Barker's 1950 novel, The Dead Seagull, described his affair with Smart (whose 1945 novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept was also about the affair). His Collected Poems (ISBN 0-571-13972-8) were edited by Robert Fraser and published in 1987 by Faber & Faber.

His son is the poet Sebastian Barker.


In describing the difficulties in writing his biography, Barker was quoted as saying, "I've stirred the facts around too much.... It simply can't be done." Yet, Robert Fraser did just that with The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker.[2]



  • Thirty Preliminary Poems. London: Parton Press, 1933.
  • Poems. London: Faber & Faber, 1935.
  • Calamiterror. London: Faber & Faber, 1937.
  • Lament and Triumph. London: Faber & Faber, 1940.
  • Selected Poems. New York & London: Macmillan, 1941.
  • Sacred and Secular Elegies. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1943.
  • Eros in Dogma. London: Faber & Faber, 1944.
  • Love Poems. New York: Dial Press, 1947.
  • News of the World. London: Faber & Faber, 1950.
  • The True Confession of George Barker. New York: New American Library, 1950.
  • A Vision of Beasts and Gods. London: Faber & Faber, 1954.
  • The View from a Blind I. London: Faber & Faber, 1962.
  • Penguin Modern Poets 3 (by George Barker, Martin Bell, & Charles Causley). Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1962.[3]
  • Collected Poems (1965). New York: October House, 1965.
  • Dreams of a Summer Night. London: Faber & Faber, 1966.
  • At Thurgarton Church: A poem with drawings. London: Trigram Press, 1969.
  • What is Mercy [and] A Voice. London: Poem-of-the-Month Club, 1970.
  • Poems of Places and People. London: Faber & Faber, 1971.
  • III Hallucination Poems. New York: Helikon Press, 1972.
  • Seven Poems. Warcick, UK: Greville Press, 1977.
  • Villa Stellar. London & Boston: Faber & Faber, 1978.
  • Anno Domini. London & Boston: Faber & Faber, 1983.
  • Collected Poems (edited by Robert Fraser). London & Boston: Faber & Faber, 1987.
  • Three Poems. Child Okeford, Dorset, UK: Words Press, 1988.
  • Street Ballads. London & Boston: Faber & Faber, 1992.


  • Alanna Autumnal. London: Wishart, 1933.
  • The Dead Seagull. London: Soho Book Co., 1950; New York: Farrar, Straus & Young, 1951; London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1965.


  • Essays. London: McGibbon & Kee, 1970.
  • The Jubjub Bird; or, The Prose poem, and a little honouring of Lionel Johnson. Ernscote Lawn, Warwick, UK: Greville Press, 1985.


  • To Aylsham Fair. London: Faber & Faber, 1970.
  • Dibby Dubby Dhu, and other poems (illustrated by Sara Fanelli). London: Faber & Faber, 1997.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy NNDB[4] and WorldCat.[5]

See alsoEdit



  1. Sansom, Ian (March 2, 2002). "Master of the red Martini". The Guardian.,,660088,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-08. "Jessica has just given birth to his twins, Elizabeth Smart is busy giving birth to her second child by him, and he is spending most of his time drinking in London." 
  2. The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker (Jonathan Cape Ltd, 2002, ISBN 978-0-7123-0540-2).
  3. Bibliography, Charles Causley Society. Web, Dec. 28, 2013.
  4. George Barker, NNDB, Web, June 18, 2012.
  5. Search results = au:George Barker, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Centre Inc. Web, May 9, 2013.

External linksEdit


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