A L (Audrey Lilian) Barker – poet, short-story writer and novelist – was an author who gained more critical accolades than sales. She was shortlisted for John Brown’s Body.

The critic and wit Auberon Waugh once wrote of Barker that ‘I know nothing of AL Barker, except that she writes like an angel and I love her’, and other well-informed types thought the same. Although the author of 11 novels, the form came third in her estimation behind poetry and short stories (which she described as ‘explosions in the dark’). A modest but astute woman, Barker wrote as part of a varied career that included spells as a watchmaker, joining the Land Army during the war, and working with both publishers and the Listener.

A.L. Barker

All nominated books