Julian Barnes Biography

Julian Barnes Biography


Life and Literature of Julian Barnes

Novelist Julian Barnes was born in Leicester on 19 January 1946, and was educated at the City of London School and Magdalen College, Oxford. After working as a lexicographer on the Oxford English Dictionary, he began a career as a journalist, reviewing for the Times Literary Supplement and became a contributing editor for the New Review in 1977. He was assistant literary editor and television critic for the New Statesman magazine (1977-81) and deputy literary editor for the Sunday Times (1980-82), before becoming television critic of The Observer, where he worked until 1986.

He was London correspondent for the New Yorker magazine (1990-95). A collection of these articles was published as Letters from London 1990-95 (1995). Barnes’s first novel, Metroland (1980), follows the adventures of a young man escaping English suburbia in Paris in 1968. It was followed by Before She Met Me (1982), a story of jealousy and obsession.

His next book, the acclaimed Flaubert’s Parrot (1984), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Narrated by a retired doctor, Geoffrey Braithwaite, the novel combines literary criticism, biographical digression and a tragic personal narrative as Braithwaite travels through Rouen and Croisset on the trail of the celebrated author of Madame Staring at the Sun (1986) narrates the life story of Jean Sergeant, from the Second World War through to the first decades of the new millennium.

A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters (1989) explores the relationship between art, religion and death, through a number of stories linked by images of shipwreck and survival, while Talking It Over (1991), winner of the French Prix Fémina, is the story of a triangular love affair.

The Porcupine, a political novel set in Eastern Europe, was published in 1992. Cross Channel, a collection of short stories about English men and women living in France, was published in 1996 and was followed by a dark satire of contemporary English ‘theme-park’ culture, England, England (1998), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Arthur and George (2005) is based on the true story of a solicitor in the early twentieth century, accused of maiming cattle, and saved by the intervention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Calen Love, etc (2000), continues the stories of the characters he created in Talking It Over. He also used to write a series of detective thrillers under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, featuring the bisexual private-eye, Duffy. Julian Barnes’s work has been successful both commercially and critically on both sides of the Channel, and Flaubert’s Parrot was awarded the Prix Médicis (France).

In 1995 he was made an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). He was awarded the E.M. Forster Award in 1986 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the German Shakespeare Prize from the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in Hamburg in 1993. In 2011 he was Bovary.

He was awarded the David Cohen British Literature Prize. His book Something to Declare: French Essays (2002), is a series of essays about French life and culture. He has also edited and translated the first English translation of the French 19th-century novelist Alphonse Daudet’s In the Land of Pain (2002). The Pedant in the Kitchen (2003), was originally a series of articles for The Guardian.

Julian Barnes lives in London. His latest books are Nothing To Be Frightened Of (2008) – a memoir; Pulse (2011) – a collection of short stories; and the novels, The Sense of an Ending (2011), shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Novel Award and winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, The Noise of Time (2016) and The Only Story (2018).


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