Clive Barker (born 5 October 1952) is an English novelist, playwright, author, film director, and visual artist who came to prominence in the mid-1980s with a series of short stories, the Books of Blood, which established him as a leading horror writer. He has since written many novels and other works. His fiction has been adapted into films, notably the Hellraiser series, the first installment of which he also wrote and directed, and the Candyman series. He was also an executive producer of the film Gods and Monsters, which won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Barker's paintings and illustrations have been shown in galleries in the United States, and have appeared in his books. He has also created characters and series for comic books, and some of his more popular horror stories have been featured in ongoing comics series.
When he was three, Barker witnessed the French skydiver Léo Valentin plummet to his death during a performance at an air show in Liverpool. He later alluded to Valentin in many of his stories.
Barker's involvement in live theatre began while still in school with productions of Voodoo and Inferno in 1967. He collaborated on six plays with Theatre of the Imagination in 1974 and two more that he was the sole writer of, A Clowns' Sodom and Day of the Dog, for The Mute Pantomime Theatre in 1976 and 1977.
He co-founded the avant-garde theatrical troupe The Dog Company in 1978 with former school friends and up and coming actors, many of whom would go on to become key collaborators in Barker's film work. Doug Bradley would take on the iconic role of Pinhead in the Hellraiser series while Peter Atkins would write the scripts for the first three Hellraiser sequels. Over the next five years Barker would write nine plays, often serving as director, including some of his most well-known stage productions, The History of The Devil, Frankenstein in Love, and The Secret Life of Cartoons.
From 1982 to 1983, he wrote Crazyface, Subtle Bodies and Colossus for the Cockpit Youth Theatre.
His theatrical work would come to a close as he shifted focus to writing the Books of Blood.
He is the writer of the best-selling Abarat series.
During his early years as a writer, Barker occasionally worked as a male escort when his writing did not provide sufficient income. In 2003, he received the Davidson/Valentini Award at the 15th GLAAD Media Awards.
Barker is critical of organized religion, but has said that the Bible influences his work and spirituality. Years later, he said on Facebook that he did not identify himself as a Christian.
Barker said in a December 2008 online interview (published in March 2009) that he had throat polyps which were so severe, a doctor told him he was taking in only 10% of the air he was supposed to. He has had two surgeries to remove them and believes his voice has improved as a result. He said he did not have cancer, and has given up cigars.
In 2012, Barker entered a coma for several days after contracting toxic shock syndrome, triggered by a visit to a dentist where a spillage of poisonous bacteria entered his bloodstream, almost killing him. Realising he might have just a short time to live, he decided to put his personal concerns about the world and society into the upcoming novel Deep Hill, which he thought could be his final book.
As of 2015, he is a member of the board of advisers for the Hollywood Horror Museum.
While appearing on the radio call-in show Loveline on 20 August 1996, Barker said that in his teens he had several relationships with older women, but came to identify himself as homosexual by 18 or 19.
His relationship with John Gregson lasted from 1975 until 1986. He later spent 13 years with photographer David Armstrong, described as his husband in the introduction to Coldheart Canyon; they separated in 2009.
He served as an executive producer for the 1998 film Gods and Monsters, a semi-fictional tale of Frankenstein director James Whale's later years, which won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Barker said of his interest in the project: "Whale was gay, I'm gay; Whale was English, I'm English…Whale made some horror movies, and I've made some horror movies. It seemed as if I should be helping to tell this story." Barker also provided the foreword on the published shooting script.
In 2005, Barker and horror film producer Jorge Saralegui created the film production company Midnight Picture Show with the intent of producing two horror films per year.
In October 2006, Barker announced through his website that he will be writing the script to a forthcoming remake of the original Hellraiser film. He was developing a film based on his Tortured Souls line of toys from McFarlane Toys. In 2020, Barker regained control of the Hellraiser franchise, and served as executive producer on a 2022 reboot film for the streaming service Hulu.
Barker is a prolific visual artist, often illustrating his own books. His paintings have been seen first on the covers of his official fan club magazine, Dread, published by Fantaco in the early '90s; on the covers of the collections of his plays, Incarnations (1995) and Forms of Heaven (1996); and on the second printing of the original British publications of his Books of Blood series. Barker also provided the artwork for his young adult novel The Thief of Always and for the Abarat series. His artwork has been exhibited at Bert Green Fine Art in Los Angeles and Chicago, at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York and La Luz De Jesus in Los Angeles. Many of his sketches and paintings can be found in the collection Clive Barker, Illustrator, published in 1990 by Arcane/Eclipse Books, and in Visions of Heaven and Hell, published in 2005 by Rizzoli Books.
Barker horror adaptations and spin-offs in comics include the Marvel/Epic Comics series Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Pinhead, The Harrowers, Book of the Damned, and Jihad; Eclipse Books' series and graphic novelsTapping The Vein, Dread, Son of Celluloid, Revelations, The Life of Death, Rawhead Rex and The Yattering and Jack, and Dark Horse Comics' Primal, among others. Barker served as a consultant and wrote issues of the Hellraiser anthology comic book.
In 2005, IDW published a three-issue adaptation of Barker's children's fantasy novel The Thief of Always, written and painted by Kris Oprisko and Gabriel Hernandez. IDW is publishing a 12 issue adaptation of Barker's novel The Great and Secret Show.
In December 2007, Chris Ryall and Clive Barker announced an upcoming collaboration of an original comic book series, Torakator, to be published by IDW.
In October 2009, IDW published Seduth, co-written by Barker. The work was released with three variant covers.
In 2011, Boom! Studios began publishing an original Hellraiser comic book series.
In 2013, Boom! Studios announced Next Testament, the first original story by Barker to be published in comic book format.
Books of Blood: Volume One (1984), ISBN 9780425083895, collection of 1 short story and 5 novelettes:
"The Book of Blood", "The Midnight Meat Train" (novelette), "The Yattering and Jack" (novelette), "Pig Blood Blues" (novelette), "Sex, Death and Starshine" (novelette), "In the Hills, the Cities" (novelette)
Books of Blood, Volume Two, or Books of Blood, Volume II (1984), ISBN 9780722114131, collection of 5 novelettes:
"Dread", "Hell's Event", "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament", "The Skins of the Fathers", "New Murders in the Rue Morgue"
Books of Blood, Volume Three, or Books of Blood 3 (1984), ISBN 9780751511697, collection of 5 novelettes:
"Son of Celluloid", "Rawhead Rex", "Confessions of a (Pornographer's) Shroud", "Scape-Goats", "Human Remains"
Books of Blood: Volume IV, or The Inhuman Condition (1985), ISBN 9780722113738, collection of 1 short story and 4 novelettes/novellas:
"The Body Politic" (novelette), "The Inhuman Condition" (novelette), "Revelations" (novella), "Down, Satan!", "The Age of Desire" (novella)
Books of Blood: Volume V, or In the Flesh (1985), ISBN 9780722113745, collection of 4 novelettes/novellas:
"The Forbidden" (novelette), "The Madonna" (novelette), "Babel's Children" (novelette), "In the Flesh" (novella)
Books of Blood: Volume VI, or Books of Blood 6 (1985), ISBN 9780722113752, collection of 1 short story and 4 novelettes/novellas:
"The Life of Death" (novelette), "How Spoilers Bleed" (novelette), "Twilight at the Towers" (novelette), "The Last Illusion" (novella), "On Jerusalem Street"
The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction (1999), ISBN 9780060195298, collection of more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length stories (1 short story and 3 novelettes):
"The Departed", "The Forbidden" (novelette), "In the Hills, the Cities" (novelette), "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament" (novelette)
Clive Barker's First Tales (2013), ISBN 9781311693518, collection of 1 short story and 1 novella:
"The Wood on the Hill", "The Candle in the Cloud" (novella)
Tonight, Again: Tales of Love, Lust and Everything in Between (2015), ISBN 9781596066946, collection of 24 short stories and 7 poems:
"Tonight, Again", "I Love You" (poem), "Craw: A Fable", "Afraid", "Moved", "I Imagine You", "If the Pen Is the Penis" (poem), "Touch the Rod" (poem), "Martha", "Tit", "The Freaks", "Cruelty" (poem), "Dollie", "The Collection", "What May Not Be Shown", "Two Views from a Window", "Men in the Aisles of Supermarkets" (poem), "A Blessing", "Unrequited", "Another Genesis", "Inside Out (Wasteland)", "I Have My Art" (poem), "Aurora", "Whistling in the Dark", "The Common Flesh", "Mr. Fred Coady Professes His Undying Love for His Little Sylvia", "The Phone Call", "The Multitude", "A Monster Lies in Wait" (poem), "An Incident at the Nunnery", "The Genius of Denny Dan"
Fear Eternal (TBA)
Uncollected short stories:
"Lost Souls" (1986)
"Coming to Grief" (1988), novelette
"The Rhapsodist" (1988)
"Nightbreed" (1990), screenplay for the film, based on novel Cabal
"Pidgin and Theresa" (1993)
"Animal Life" (1994)
"Sacrament" (1996), novelette
"Haeckel's Tale" (2005)
"How Mr. Maximillian Bacchus' Travelling Circus Reached Cathay, and Entertained the Court of the Khan Called Kublai In Xanadu, How They Sought the Bearded Bird, and How, At Last, Angelo Was Lost" (2009)
"How the Clown Domingo de Y Barrondo Fell Over the Edge of the World" (2009)
"The Face of the Flying Fish and Why Docor Jozabiah Bentham's Theatre of Tears Sailed North" (2009)
"The Wedding of Indigo Murphy To the Duke Lorenzo de Medici and How Angelo Was Discovered in an Orchard" (2009)
"And So with Cries" (2009)
"A Night's Work" (2013)
Incarnations: Three Plays (1995), collection of 3 plays:
"Colossus", "Frankenstein in love or The Life of death", "The History of the Devil or Scenes from a Pretended Life"
Forms of Heaven: Three Plays (1996), collection of 3 plays:
"Crazyface", "Paradise Street", "Subtle Bodies"
A Clowns' Sodom (The Mute Pantomime Theatre, 1976)
Day of the Dog (The Mute Pantomime Theatre, 1977)
The Sack (The Dog Company, 1978)
The Magician (The Dog Company, 1978)
Dog (The Dog Company, 1979)
Nightlives (The Dog Company, 1979)
History of the Devil (The Dog Company, 1980)
Dangerous World (The Dog Company, 1981)
Paradise Street (The Dog Company, 1981)
Frankenstein in Love (The Dog Company, 1982)
The Secret Life of Cartoons (The Dog Company, 1982)
Crazyface (Cockpit Youth Theatre, 1982)
Subtle Bodies (Cockpit Youth Theatre, 1983)
Colossus (Cockpit Youth Theatre, 1983)
"Six Commonplaces (from Weaveworld)" (1987), published in Fantasy Tales, V9n17, Summer 1987
"There Was A Time" (2010), published in Multiverses by Preston Grassmann, ed.
"The Hour" (2021), published in Out of the Ruins by Preston Grassmann, ed.
^Jamie Bowman (19 May 2015). "As Clive Barker returns here's eight other Merseyside sci fi, fantasy and horror writers who have thrilled readers worldwide". liverpoolecho.
^"The Official Clive Barker Website – Revelations Interview 33". www.clivebarker.info. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
^Abrams, Michael (2006). Birdmen, Batmen, and Skyflyers: Wingsuits and the Pioneers Who Flew in Them, Fell in Them, and Perfected Them. New York City: Harmony Books. pp. 131–132. ISBN 978-1-4000-5491-6.
^ abc"The Official Clive Barker Website – Revelations – Theatre". www.clivebarker.info. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
^Cardin, Matt (21 September 2017). Horror Literature through History: An Encyclopedia of the Stories that Speak to Our Deepest Fears [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781440842023.
^"The Official Clive Barker Resource : Revelations – News Stephen King Award – Speech". Clivebarker.info. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
^"Influences". Clive Barker Revelations. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
^"Q&A: 'Hellraiser' Author Clive Barker on Almost Dying, Hustling, and Killing Pinhead".
^"Publications". GLAAD. Archived from the original on 13 December 2003. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
^"The Official Clive Barker Website – Spirituality". Clivebarker.info. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
^"Clive Barker". www.facebook.com. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
^"Art and the Artist: An Interview with Clive Barker". Strange Horizons. March 2009. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010.
^"Clive Barker recovering from 'near fatal' case of toxic shock syndrome". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
^"The Official Clive Barker Website – Revelations Interview 33". www.clivebarker.info.
^Barkan, Jonathan (14 September 2015). "Top Horror Masterminds Creating "The Hollywood Horror Museum"". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
^"Clive Barker". Classic Loveline. Episode 233. Los Angeles, California, United States. 20 August 1996. KROQ-FM. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
^Green, Willow (16 April 2000). "Clive Barker goes Disney". EmpireOnline.
^"Clive Barker and Disney part ways". TheDisneyBlog. 11 September 2006.
^Harvey, Dennis (24 January 1998). "Gods and Monsters". Variety. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
^Kaufman, Anthony (11 November 1998). "From Candyman to Frankenstein, Bill Condon Talks "Gods and Monsters"". IndieWire. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
^"Film Review: Gods and Monsters". BBC News. 16 March 1999. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
^Michael, Dennis (5 November 1998). "The 'Gods and Monsters' of James Whale". CNN. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
^"Clive Barker to form Midnight Picture Show". Advocate.com. 26 May 2005. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
^"The Official Clive Barker Website – Revelations Interview 15". Clivebarker.info. Archived from the original on 18 May 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
^"Clive on The Books of Blood". The Official Clive Barker Website. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
^"Clive on The Books of Blood - 2". The Official Clive Barker Website. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
^"The Inhuman Condition". The Official Clive Barker Website. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
^"Clive on First Tales". The Official Clive Barker Website. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
^"The book of poems, which is called The Presence of This Breath, contains about 280 poems..." https://www.reddit.com/r/horror/comments/j9zgwb/im_clive_barker_an_author_artist_and_imaginer_my/
^Gronli, Jonathan. "What Happened To: Clive Barker's Demonik". Technology Tell. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
Critical studies of Barker's work
Smith, Andrew. "Worlds that Creep upon You: Postmodern Illusions in the Work of Clive Barker." In Clive Bloom, ed, Creepers: British Horror and Fantasy in the Twentieth Century. London and Boulder CO: Pluto Press, 1993, pp. 176–86.
Suzanne J. Barbieri, Clive Barker : Mythmaker for the Millennium. Stockport:British Fantasy Society, 1994, ISBN 0952415305.
Gary Hoppenstand, Clive Barker's short stories : imagination as metaphor in the Books of blood and other works. (With a foreword by Clive Barker). Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, 1994, ISBN 0899509843.
Linda Badley, Writing Horror and The Body : the fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice. London : Greenwood Press, 1996, ISBN 0313297169.
Chris Morgan, "Barker, Clive", in David Pringle, ed., St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers. London: St. James Press, 1998, ISBN 1558622063
S. T. Joshi, The Modern Weird Tale Jefferson, N.C.; London : McFarland, 2001, ISBN 078640986X.