Born in Edinburgh, Elspeth Barker came to Somerville in 1958 to study Literae Humaniores (Classics).
Barker’s first novel O Caledonia was published in 1991 and won four awards, including the David Higham Prize and the Angel Fiction Prize. It was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize. She was a feature writer and reviewer for the Independent on Sunday, Guardian, Sunday Times, Observer, LRB and TLS, Harpers & Queen, Scotland on Sunday, Country Living and Vogue
In 2012 she published Dog Days, a collection of her journalism.
Barker taught creative writing in the UK, Europe and the US and was Visiting Professor of Fiction at Kansas University. She was a judge for the McKitterick and Sagittarius prizes. She also wrote for The Literary Review. She died on April 21st 2022, and her obituary was published in the Times.
Did you know? In 2017, writer Ali Smith called O Caledonia ‘A sparky, funny work of genius about class, romanticism, social tradition and literary tradition.’