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Writer and filmmaker Clive Barker is largely considered a master of the horror genre. His Books of Blood and Hellraiser films are among his best-known works.
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Clive Barker was born October 5, 1952, in Liverpool, England. In college he created a theater group that became the Dog Company. In 1984 he published his first work of work of fiction, Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. In the early 1980s he and George Pavlou made the films Underworld and Rex. In 1987 he directed his own film, Hellraiser. Since then, he has worked on both screenwriting and fiction.
"I feel that horror literature is touching upon the big issues time and time again. Death and life after death, sex after death, insanity, loneliness, anxiety. Horror writers are addressing the deepest concerns of the human condition."
Clive Barker was born on October 5, 1952, to a working-class family in Liverpool, England. His father, Leonard, was a shipping clerk. Barker’s mother, Joan, was a housewife and a lively storyteller. To help pay the bills, Barker’s parents ran a boarding house. Many of the boarders were actors, who encouraged Barker’s early interest in theater.
When he was just four years old, Barker witnessed a man fall from a plane to his death during an air show. Forced to look away, he developed a growing fascination with morbid, forbidden sights. As a teen, Barker became an enthusiastic reader of horror fiction, particularly the work of Edgar Allan Poe. This preoccupation with the macabre would influence his creative work in the years to come.
In addition to his fascination with horror fiction, Barker also maintained a keen interest in theater. As early as secondary school, he started writing and performing his own plays.
After graduating from secondary school, Barker enrolled at the University of Liverpool as an English major. College life proved challenging for Barker. He created an outlet for his angst by starting his own theater company, called the Hydra Theatre Company, with a group of friends. In addition to other plays, the company presented original works penned by Barker himself.
When Barker graduated from the University of Liverpool in 1974, he and the Hydra Theatre Company kept putting on plays. In 1976 they moved the company to London and became an established, professional company, renaming themselves the Dog Company. The Dog Company faced some initial challenges, but eventually became popular with audiences and critics alike. In 1982 members of the group were ready to move on to other things, and the group disbanded. Following the breakup, Barker continued to write plays, but by then was beginning to gravitate more toward writing fiction.
In 1984 Barker published his fiction work for the first time, in the form of a short-story collection called Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. The stories became best sellers in Britain. When they were reprinted in America, they were met with equal enthusiasm.
In 1985 Barker published his first novel, The Damnation Game. Afterward, he wrote three more Books of Blood and two additional novels—Weaveworld and Cabal, published in 1987 and 1988, respectively.
Barker’s flair for horror writing lent itself well to the film industry. In the early 1980s Barker was approached by filmmaker George Pavlou, who wanted to convert some of Barker’s Books of Blood stories into films.
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