Elspeth Barker

Elspeth Barker (1940) is a Scottish writer.

She attended Somerville College, Oxford, and, in the late 1960’s, married the poet George Barker, with whom she had five children. He died in 1991, and Barker later married the writer Bill Troop, in 2007.

From the early 1980’s until the early 1990’s, she taught Latin at a girl’s school on the Norfolk coast. From 1992 to 2010, she worked as a lecturer in creative writing at Norwich School of Art and Design, and in 1999, she was a visiting professor at Kansas University. Barker also contributed articles, reviews, and essays to various magazines and newspaper, such as the GuardianLondon Review of Books, ObserverTimes Literary Supplement, Literary Review, and Vogue.

Her first novel, O Caledonia, was published in 1991, when she was 51. It was awarded the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, The David Higham Prize, The Scottish Book Prize and The Angel Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize. In an interview for the New York Times, published in 2017, Ali Smith called Barker’s book “one of the best least-known novels of the 20th century“.


  • O Caledonia (1991)
  • Dog Days: Selected Writings (2012)

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