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2005-12, 348, Crime Fiction, John S Ryan



The Literary Career of Robert Barnard: Armidale’s Sometime

Author of Detective Fiction

*( This article surveys Robert Barnard’s career to the end of August 2005, at which time it was submitted to Biblionews, the original being subsequently edited down to concentrate on the biographical and bibliographical aspects of that career. Several details about 2005 and 2006 were/are provisionary. The writer is also responsible for any unintended confusions about/ errors in referring to American/paperback edition publishers and/or reprints which have not been sighted personally. Announcements in some cases will give a date a year ahead of the actual issue.)

THE FIRST PART of this title is quoted from the irritated thoughts of a particular—and apparently fictional—Australian professor of English in his small bushland university, when he discovers that one of his distinctly motley teaching staff is checking up on his own Oxford antecedents and those of others who have at some time in their careers studied in the ancient British university. These remarks all refer to the detective novel, the Australia-set The Death of an Old Goat (London: Collins, 1974) by Robert Barnard.

Robert Barnard—through his fictional alter ego, Bob Bascomb—is also deemed by another of his (fictional) teaching colleagues in the book to be eagerly playing a secondary role in a most implausible detective combination, one very much like the famed ‘fictional characters—Watson, Bunter, Lugg and Fox’ (p.113). For the formal plot deals with the young lecturer’s attempt to assist the police in solving an apparently motiveless murder of a recentlyarrived and soon-murdered visitor to the Department of English at the University of Drummondale in this novel,The Death of an Old Goat. However, this peculiarly Australian ‘rural’ text has to date only had its major publication in England or the United States of America. When it was first issued in 1974 in the British Collins Crime Club format, the story created something of a sensation in Armidale, New South Wales, amongst those who gained access to a copy. The elusive volume, in due course, would appear in the USA in a Penguin edition in January 1983, as well as having an American Penguin Books reprint.2 Indeed, it has had such re-issues due to its being the first Barnard mystery novel and also, perhaps, due to greater northern hemisphere interest in the cultural backgrounds of Australians who appear on other national stages.

In the year of the book’s first issue, 1974, the flyleaf told the curious reader that:

Robert Barnard is 37 and was born in Essex. Since coming down from Oxford where he read English at Balliol, he worked in London … and in Accrington. In 1961 he went to Australia, and stayed for nearly six years as a lecturer in the English Department of the University of New England in Northern New South Wales.

By 1990 it was unnecessary to tell the (British) public who Robert Barnard was and the rear cover of that year’s edition refers, somewhat derisively, to “the sun-baked Australian literary landscape … the rather badtempered academics and an uneasy contingent from the local grazing community”. But it also quoted ‘70’s reviews: “The best academic mystery in a decade” (New Republic), and “Extremely funny but irresistibly convincing picture of indigenous scholarship” (from the Glasgow Herald), a view endorsed by many Australian academics, particularly those who had worked in the early University of New England.

The now widely-famed author Robert Barnard was born in November, 1936, brought up in Essex, in the south-east of England, attended a grammar school there and then did the main English School of Language and Literature course at the University of Oxford, where he was a scholar of the very ancient foundation, Balliol College. After graduation and working briefly in the Fabian Society bookshop in Accrington, Lancashire—an activity which brought him into contact with various political figures— and at other minor non-career activities, he began some sporadic academic writing. Indeed, it was the publication of an early scholarly article which would—much as in the case of the novel’s protagonist, Bill Bascomb— cause the very Australian new university (the University of New England itself only becoming autonomous in 1954) to accept him as a lecturer.

There he became professionally concerned with the then quickly expanding numbers of part time students, or ‘externals’, and contracted to the “weekend schools” conducted by the lecturers from Armidale, then visiting far distant centres like Bathurst (p.115). Something of an eccentric himself in real life, Barnard is well remembered as projecting in Armidale many of the characteristics which he gave to his fictional budding detective-cum-academic. Thus Barnard, like Bascomb (p.107), would query the Oxford antecedents of his Armidale academic colleagues who had been in colleges other than his own at that ancient university. This bantering perhaps covered his coming to terms with the hearty Australian rural lifestyle, and with the numbers of ‘rural science’ students living near him in college.

His own protagonist’s obvious bent towards Victorian literature, and taste and enthusiasm for the works of Dickens in particular, is revealed at several points, as when Bascomb reaches out for his copy of Edwin Drood (p.181), or recalls in a sort of pained nostalgia Jane Austen, Mrs Gaskell, and other favourite English writers. However, Barnard’s own novel, despite its quirky stances and much later issue—some eight years after his departure from the New England scene—may well be deemed a surprisingly perceptive set of recollections about and shrewdly satiric portrait of the early to mid-1960s teaching and residential style of the University of Drummondale/New England, one “situated somewhere between Sydney and Brisbane”, as his text tells us.

While it will be obvious that this fictional chronicle is one of the classic 1960s style ‘Lucky Jim’ texts about Australian universities,3 it is a remarkably acute socio-cultural interpretation of Armidale and its ‘new’ university4  in its first decade or so. For Robert Barnard’s time in Australia had coincided with the last of the University of New England’s still pioneering ‘old days’ and took place during the relative pause before the great expansions. In early 1961, when Robert Barnard arrived at the beginning of the session, the town of Armidale/Drummondale5  had perhaps one third of its end-of-the-century population, had few asphalted roads, mainly wooden dwelling houses and similar looking ‘temporary’ University residential buildings. And it was still largely a small and slumbering country centre, dominated in many ways by a mere handful of long-established grazier families. Coincident, too, with the second half of the young academic’s time here was the onset of the great drought of the mid-1960s, and both aspects of these quite unexpected life experiences for him were lovingly and maliciously recalled when the novel began to flow from his pen several years after his own departure from Australia.

In the years after the disastrous Belshaw Building Fire of 1958, the fast growing Department of English was located in the temporary Milton Building (still standing in 2005), a somewhat rambling wooden construction offering but little internal privacy, so that a curious Bascomb seeking enlightenment as to the thoughts of his Head of Department, we are told, very easily

listened outside the Professor’s door. Owing to the ‘temporary’, jerrybuilt nature of the sprawling hut in which the English Department was accommodated, he soon found out the cause of his own unpopularity (p.112).

And in that rural setting and in its temporary buildings in the main, Barnard/Bascomb would work in some bemused fascination for his stay of nearly six years. On the academic side, Barnard’s formal work was fairly basic, involving the teaching and marking of very numerous external assignments—some thirteen pieces of written work being required to be marked and speedily returned before the final examination for first year English. He would also occasionally be required to attend and lecture at weekend schools for external students in various distant locations. And there were for him so very many internal lectures, tutorials, and pointless debates about the syllabus, very much as is described in the text as an activity dominating even the escapist sherry parties and astounding the more perceptive of the grazing squirearchy. But there was at least the consolation of lecturing to and tutoring for later students in the Bachelor of Arts degree courses in one of his preferred areas of study, that on Restoration drama, despite its actually being described by him, in the fictional text, as having some ‘drearier stretches’ (p.156).

Being in the Department of English at UNE at that time had largely dictated that he would join the relatively new College system, in which almost all his colleagues served. His own time in Wright College (its own wooden buildings first occupied in 1958) is thinly disguised in this periodevoking account of Bascomb’s reluctant response to some of his evening duties in “Menzies College” to

a call to exercise his powers as a moral tutor. There seemed to be a party in the block, and as he had not been given the statutory ten days’ notice in triplicate, he felt the need to go and investigate. There was always a danger that he would be reported to the Master by one of the students from the Evangelical Union. As he might have guessed, the party was an impromptu one given by a crowd of enormous rural science students (pp.164-165), or in such authentic remarks as to the customs of more elaborate and tradition- attempting dining in an Oxbridge style, as “when it’s non-resident Fellows’ night at Menzies College” (p.189)

.Before he left Armidale, Robert Barnard had married Mary Louise Tabot,6 a local girl of Hungarian migrant descent with a degree in French and English and a graduate librarian, and they, assisted by the cultural offices of the British Council in Sydney and in London, then moved at the end of 1965 to the University of Bergen in Norway, where Robert was a senior lecturer from 1966-1976. In 1976 he became Professor of English at the University of Tromsø, the world’s most northerly university, and the scene for his Death in a Cold Climate (1981). In 1983 he decided to become a full time writer and to settle in Leeds, in Yorkshire, permanently as it turned out. This county would appear as setting in several of the later books such as A Hovering of Vultures (1993), which utilised various famous bridges in that county and the remote village of Micklewike, as well as allowing itself to satirise a literary family called Sneddon, “a kind of twentieth–century Bronte family”. He would also become very prominent in the British Bronte Society.

However, the northern country of his own domicile at the time of the first text’s writing is hinted at by such references as a “dreamy Scandinavian” (p.2), “Australo-Scandinavian delicacies” (p.120), or to the university’s Student Union offering somewhat pretentious buffets with “toothpicks from Norway” (p.170).

In later 1985, when he was a full time writer of mysteries and other clearly more novel-like texts, Robert had given a long telephone interview about his career and his literary purposes to the Gale Company’s standard reference work, Contemporary Author,7 and in this he refers back to his writing of “our” text, touching on:

• his teaching experience in Australia down under (p.36);

• how he “investigated the nature of Australian academia” (p.37);

• his own career’s many fictional attacks on academics, and his admission that “I shouldn’t think I’m very much liked in Australia” (p.37);

• the still perplexing matter of the continual change of set books8 in university teaching of the English literary canon in Australia (p.38);

• how “my first academic article 9 led to my going to Australia” (p.38); and

• how, before going, “I knew nothing about Australia” (ibid.).

This same long interview, then published in 1987, also tells how, while in Norway, Barnard tried to craft “a straight novel, become stuck, and there written a detective story (rejected)”, and how, at intervals during the drafting of his literary doctoral thesis, “I started on Death of an Old Goat, and that was the first one [of my novels] published” (p.38). Although he does not refer to this, the text contains many plays on colleagues’ names, and it makes various identity/character equations that it is difficult for older members of the university’s staff not to recognise.

Interestingly there are numerous other Australian echoes in various later novels, as with early use of the name of a New England/Wright College academic, one Feather, as given to a more junior and somewhat naïve and nicely modest policeman in the second novel, A Little Local Murder (1976). Then, in the fifth, Unruly Son (1978), Mark Fairleigh -Stubbs, in that text a murder suspect, confesses to the police interrogator how he has lived since his misspent time at Oxford, to which he went at nineteen, later deprecating his “idleness and drunkenness”(p.102) and then going on down and down, finally proceeding to “Australia”, and subsequently wasting his time in “drunken driving, bad debts, disorderly behaviour”(ibid.). This presents an exaggerated and self-mocking portrait of the writer’s own “lost” earlier years. Perhaps the personal value of all of these self-reflective passages is that they contain both a cheery and remarkably frank image of his self-perception of a gentle waywardness during his period of latter day transportation. Further, there is an engaging quality in the manner in which the protagonist, in so many of the mysteries, will engage in very reflective dialogues and confessionals with the police inspector about many matters such as his own picaresque career, almost as though the young man welcomes the curious but parental interest of the law in him as a muddled but essentially well-meaning, and still callow, British (migrant) youth.

In 1974, while he was still at the University of Bergen in Norway, Barnard’s doctoral thesis appeared as a book, Imagery and Theme in the Novels of Dickens (Oslo and London: Universitetsforlaget, and New York: Humanities Press). 10 In 1980, he both published A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie with English11 and American editions—and a re-issue in 1990—and written the Introduction to Agatha Christie’s The Best of Poirot (Collins).

Probably as a direct consequence of both his fiction and critical work, in 1982 he was asked to write for the authoritative volume, Whodunit? A Guide to Crime, Suspense and Spy Fiction, edited by HRF Keating. Barnard appeared there alongside such notables as Eric Ambler, Len Deighton, P D James and Julian Symons. His own distinctive contribution, the selfilluminating chapter, ‘The English Detective Story’ (pp.30-36), is a shrewd socio-cultural analysis of the rise of these stories in a particular format after the horrors of World War One. He argued very persuasively that, in that decade,

the comedy of manners was not dead. And for reading matter there were Christie, Sayers, and a whole host of lesser names who make up today what we call the Golden Age of the detective story […]

One should not take the comparison between the classic crime story and the comedy of manners too far, but the parallels are striking. In the 1920s the English middle classes had seen empires crumble, a whole battalion of middle-class standards collapse. They suspected, like the Restoration nobility, that their world was gone for ever, and they took refuge in a form of literature that was hedged with rules and conventions, that flourished on stereotyped situations and characters, that looked back to a period of stability, a period when class distinctions were easily defined and generally accepted. In the detective story, too, the outsider could be cast out of the charmed circle. Permanently. By murder, or by judicial execution. It was, like Restoration drama, a literary form abounding in rules, conventions, imperatives, prohibitions (p.30).

Further on, his essay would refer to the fact that surprisingly everyday things were now used as significant clues by Agatha Christie—and in his own writing—and that

she decisively tipped the balance away from character and setting back towards the supremacy of plot. She understood better than any that popular literature demands story, that it must force the reader to get through just one more chapter before putting the light out (p.34).

The rest of his chapter concentrates on the literary styles of Dorothy Sayers and of the New Zealand-born—but so influential and long England-domiciled—Ngaio Marsh, he then in self-revealing fashion adding:

What writers have learned is that the formula is adaptable, that it will take more realism, more humour, a wide class range, more psychological depth than the Golden Age writers used. But the basic formula is still very much alive and useful. The whodunnit is not dead. It is hardly even dozing (p.36).

In 1984 there first appeared in England his introductory but much admired A Short History of English Literaturean engaging account, also re-issued in 1994. His more academic writing career—but one now with a personal pleasure dimension to it, since he had retired from teaching—would continue with such publications as his Emily Bronte (2000). This work acknowledges his permanent residence in Leeds and his long time position as Chairman of the Bronte Society. It is also to be noted that in the early 1990s he and others had succeeded in preventing an enormous and hideous extension from being built on the back of Haworth Parsonage, the Yorkshire home of the Bronte family. By the mid 1990s, he had already been four times nominated for an Edgar Award, one of the prestigious prizes begun in 1954, awarded in honour of Edgar Alan Poe by the Mystery Writers of America for achievement in their field.

By the time of the 1987 interview, Barnard’s output and impact in the world of books—particularly in North America—had become much greater, and this has continued, with writing being a fulfilling career for him from the mid-1980s. There have often been two new mysteries each year, with another three or four editions of these stories and earlier tales. The present quite remarkable popular and more sophisticated cult of Robert Barnard as a doyen of British detective writers really began in the United States, where many of the later books have had their first printing with Bantam. It has also been much assisted by better, more probing and longer reviews12  and interviews there with the media, for as late as 1985 he could say, “I almost never go into paperback in Britain”, and that his usual British sales were still only “around 2,000 copies in hardback”.13  Of course, the 1990s would see a flood of Barnard texts in paperback in England, achieving considerable sales, particularly in that country’s university bookshops.

Today Robert Barnard is viewed as an innovative figure among English mystery writers, “maliciously funny”, with closely worked plots that afford genuine intellectual puzzles. Yet, as Newsweek put it some time ago,14 “Barnard’s success lies rather in his wit, his social satire, and his deftly drawn characters”, while other reviewers have referred to his sense of fun and irreverent observance of (English) middle class society and its political system, all his qualities contributing to a “comedy of manners that looks back to Jane Austen and Trollope”.15  The New York Times has rightly praised him for his “sense of period”, and close knowledge of English literature, as he covers many English situations, from 1936 in rural England, The Skeleton in the Grass, to the 1980s in a seedy Soho of muscle men and soft porn in Bodies, and beyond into the new century. His stories range from consistent amazingly funny and mocking social satire to a gentle affection for the quirks of earlier English culture. Typical in this respect is Death and the Chaste Apprentice (1990), the title being that of a character in a fictional Jacobean comedy which is being staged at an arts festival near London, and the book’s text contains wickedly appropriate extracts from various popular plays of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period. However, Barnard is always astonishingly successful in his evocations of a particular place and time, usually within the last fifty to sixty years, whether it be the hypocrisies and facile skill of modern churchmen in even doing murder, as in Blood Brotherhood (1977), the world of evacuees and the intense bombing of England in 1941 in his very popular Out of the Blackout, or the sinister Fascist behaviour of seeming eccentrics in an Oxfordshire village in 1936, the core of his At Death’s Door.

He has also produced on a number of occasions the pleasant and rather engaging narrator-detective, Scotland Yard’s Superintendent Perry Trethowan, who has contributed his genial charm to such of “his” books as Death by Sheer Torture (1981), Death and the Princess (1982), The Case of the Missing Bronte (1983), and Bodies (1987) or Death in Purple Prose (1987). This last is an an early text concerned with “those noted purveyors of romance, Bills and Coo”—a publisher surprisingly like Mills and Boon—and the goings-on at WARN, the annual conference16 of the World Association of Romantic Novelists. (For Trethowan is drawn into the last puzzle by virtue of the fact that his sister, a romantic novelist, is a delegate at the same conference.)

While, in respect to local reactions to The Death of an Old Goat, Robert Barnard was probably correct in his assertion of 1985, “I shouldn’t think I’m very much liked in Australia”, and many social or personal equations with local places and still living persons17  would seem very easy to make, this should not blind us to the apprentice merits of this book as an English outsider’s wry and insightful social commentary on a particular Australian community in its own time and place. While there is a real note of disdain for Australia, the culture in the book, the tone is one of a fairly robust satire, making the country shabbier and coarser than the home country of the text’s two visiting Englishmen, and to be seen as raw and yet certainly honest in its stockmen, students and those outside the fiercely subtle and destructive hierarchical societies. And it is also the case, perhaps, that Barnard is satirising his own views of some 15 years earlier from his vantage point in Norway, and so this text may be put alongside Scotsman John Douglas Pringle’s The Australian Accent of the late 1950s in its attempt to cope with the surprisingly frequent confrontation between two differing ways of life, migrant and Australian-born, at that time.

We are in the twenty-first century the more able to discern here his emerging quality as a writer with the issue of so many later stories of his, possessed as they are of like characteristics of sanity and shrewdness. For Barnard has always been concerned to cut down snobbery, smallness of spirit, malice and pettiness of behaviour, as well as to expose the sleaziness that tends to lurk in so many modern institutions of (petty) power which aspire to moral authority. His treatment of politicians, only a very passing theme here, receives much more detailed treatment elsewhere, as in his Political Suicide (1986), which has been called by The Observer “a wickedly funny hatchet job on the mother of parliaments” as it probes both the local Labour Party in Bootham East, and the Tory Party and its very dubious candidate for the by-election which follows on the member’s suicide revealed as murder in the same electorate.

Yet another of his major themes as his career has developed—one alreadyfound in  the first book—is that of the exploration of the pretentious public school, notably also in the text, Little Victims (1983), a savage exploration of the “Burleigh School” and its inept head, Mr Crumwallis. As in Drummondale, so in many communities in England he would say, ours is the generation of (educational) sleaze, vanity and cover-up and worse, or so the cynically secular morality of most of his stories of church schools would seem to suggest. Yet these moral fables always make this point in a most witty fashion, author and reader savouring hugely all the notable eccentricity, as well as the propensity to sudden bursts of violence that is to be found in any small and closed community, company town or (service) organization.

While in 1974 our Armidale/Drummondale text was called by the Glasgow Herald “an engrossingly snide thriller”, later critics soon evolved a more subtle style of analysis of Barnard’s style. The international weekly Time has said that “he plots a mystery as well as any other writer alive”, andKirkus Review observed in the 1980s:

Robert Barnard is fast taking on the Christie mantle. He is the most appealing and reliable practitioner of the classic British mystery to arrive in the last decade.

Yet other recent popular encomia were very soon much more perceptive: “One of the most winning talents to emerge on the crime scene” (The Washington Post); or “His vision is convincing, his craftsmanship impeccable, and the wit is lovely” (Chicago Sun-Times). We can do no more than to conclude with the encomium on his earlier work from The New York Times Book Review in 1989:

One of the deftest stylists in the field. It is the writing that counts here. Mr Barnard goes about it with a quietly malicious sense of humour.

What then, in 1974, seemed to be but a slightly warped tribute to his own colonial experience, his Death of an Old Goat—the book and the situations that he savoured and then wrote up in reflective mood—, clearly constitute Barnards’s seed-time as a writer of wry social reportage and of intriguing mystery. While many found the book undeniably snobbish and typical of many English migrants’ attitudes to perceived Australian coarseness in the 1960s, some of the most important aspects of its record may now be seen to be the many textual tributes to Jane Austen, to Charles Dickens and to Agatha Christie, as well as the successful recreation of details of their styles in his “Australian” offering.

His deeply serious attitude to the major canon of the English novel is also attested to the world by his brief though meritorious academic career, his sterling work for the Bronte Society and in the preservation of important cultural sites like the Haworth Parsonage, where the talented literary family lived and where the Gothic atmosphere influenced the Bronte Sisters in their own novels.

But the general reader, or those who may casually pick up one of the many Barnard mysteries now in paperback, may well agree with the US Publishers Weekly that “Barnard has mastered the unpredictable, credible plot, and writes with warmth and mellow wit”. Many have noted his skill with the “closed circle whodunit”, set in a circle of the pretentious, the modest and the downright nasty, with which style of plot he may be very justly said to have early taken on the Agatha Christie mantle. Also to be noted as recurring themes are his distaste for brutal and foolish right wing politics; or his fascination with other small and new universities of post 1945 founding—as, for example, with the English University of South Wessex, and its History Department, in Mother’s Boys (1981)—and their problems with the surrounding and manipulative/ intrusive community, all symbolic of what he once called “civilisation in decline”.

A similarly caring text, in many ways, is his No Place of Safety (1997) with its concern for two teenagers who attend the same school and who go missing. For the strength of that book is Barnard’s ability to depict young people sympathetically and without sentiment. In similar vein, in School for Murder (1984), he had taken on the British school tradition, using the pedants and crackpots at a private yet morally shabby dayboy academy to present another murderous comedy of manners.

Returning to The Death of an Old Goat, some have likened Barnard’s reported, if shocked and completely unexpected “colonial experience” of Australia with that of DH Lawrence in Australia in 1922 which produced his Kangaroo (1923) and, with Molly Skinner, The Boy in the Bush (1924). The latter text had handled well the unkempt life in Western Australia, reporting illuminatingly on this, as well as projecting the theme of the young traveller’s self-development there in the presence of a range of persons whom he instinctively hates—a patterning which it is not hard to find paralleled in The Death of an Old Goat.

Similarly, one of the most valid tributes to Barnard’s earlier satiric temper and style is that of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine which called him ‘one of the funniest new writers to emerge in the 1980s’, by which time the Financial Times could say, of Out of the Blackout (1985): “Barnard’s invention is unflagging: the book is a real achievement”. Another merited accolade is that of Newsweek, which has said that he “offers what Christie could not: wit and a sense of energy and style” and, of course, the larger literary truth is that he has long been writing novels, not whodunits. He has long seen, reflected on and wittily presented his views of the English national character and changing mores and in the process has deservedly acquired an enormous and hugely appreciative reading public.


We should be delighted that yesterday’s New England had offered him the opportunity to begin the development of his career as a subtle and nuanced writer, whose detective fiction can and indeed should be read for its wicked sense of (uneasy) community, its probing of sordid personal motives in the rich and powerful, and for its enormously satisfying and cleverly managed dramatic plots which have rightly been praised for their ingeniousness and ability to hold the attention of audiences both mass and highbrow at the same time.

In 2002 Robert Barnard, then in his mid-sixties and much acclaimed for his suspenseful mysteries that were moving more and more towards the mode of the novel, quite unexpectedly completed his fortieth volume of detective fiction, A Cry From the Dead, in which he re-visited northern New South Wales in various fictional settings. But this time the Australian focus is largely on his “Bundaroo”, a small outback town, fairly adjacent to Walgett, and, in briefer compass, on prewar Armidale.

This complex work—for the genre is not at all easy to determine as it cleverly mixes past and present—was published in 2003, but the plot of it depends on 2002 being the eightieth year of its London-domiciled narrator, the now highly esteemed writer and novelist, Mrs Bettina Cockburn, Australiaborn, living in a degree of opulence in a beautiful flat in London’s Holland Park and herself deemed a grand dame of the English literary scene. As with other late books from Barnard, the mood is one of bitter-sweet, with its yearning for lost innocence, the place of nurture, and the life-long search for those friends who can be trusted.



Paperback novels of Robert Barnard

Advance publicity on the web by Keith Miles and several notices from the USA alike, tell us much about the somewhat later novel, The Graveyard Position released in the USA in earlier 2005 and which was due out in the English autumn of 2005. It apparently deals with a 38-years-old member of a powerful family, the Cantellos, who is now returning to Leeds after long absence abroad to meet the members of his disputatious and unattractive family. This intriguing and engrossing story is said to use an Ibsenite retrospective technique, peeling away the past in layers to get to the dark secret that has soured a whole generation. What is very clear is that this novel, like A Cry from the Dark, is concerned with confronting the foolishly suppressed horrors of the past, and that something sinister is still being concealed by the English members of the family.

While it would seem that a like technique has been used in A Cry from the Dark, it is also true that this “Australian story with New England roots” is a modern morality or fable about the dangers of self-sufficiency. It is one that spans the world from a very quiet Australian backwater in the 1930s depression to the global society, whose members—the novelist included—for all their wealth and assured place in the sun, have baggage from their pasts that they would do well to inspect, rather than assume that it has no meaning in their self-centred present lives.

In September 2005, Allison and Busby were to publish in hard cover his most recent novel, Dying Flames, an early publicity outline of which runs:

Novelist Graham Broadbent coasts through life like many of the characters in his books—low-key and unassertive—quietly accepting the easy pace his success has allowed him. But one evening, minutes before leaving to speak at his school’s reunion, attractive, twenty-year-old, Christa appears at his hotel door and tells Graham he is her father … Graham finds himself in a confusion of deception and lies, far beyond his mastery of plot and character.

Yet again it would seem that a much older and wiser Robert Barnard is exploring the world of those who have conveniently forgotten both the family and the obligations that constitute their core of true identity.

And so, much as New England of the 1960s had been a place of expanding experience for Robert Barnard when he began his writing career in the 1970s, and the North-west of the 1930s is made such a place for his fictional creation, Bettina Cockburn, in the early 21st century, so we may see that Barnard’s most recent novels are concerned with suppressed/forgotten origins, guilts, secrets, and self-deceptions. The problems of personal integrity and internal peace—and their solutions—are only to be reached by peeling off the layers of facts and interpretations that protect the “life-lie” that Ibsen so well identified for us in his plays. It is not too much to argue that Robert Barnard, with these later tales, is doing much the same for us pretentious global citizens who, with a measure of convenient forgetfulness, would prefer not to know who we are and where we have come from.


UK, left and US, right, editions

A select bibliography of Robert Barnard’s writings:18

This bibliography is given in some illustrative detail since Robert Barnard’s many titles and editions have already become eminently collectable—much in the manner of the like cult of the editions of Fergus Hume’s many late Victorian and Edwardian mysteries and stories of crime. Our erstwhile Armidale resident’s writings are today sought worldwide, often at vastly inflated prices, The Death of an Old Goat having by the early 1990s achieved its 10th printing in New York, with its first edition much sought after amongst American academics, and collectors. Thus, in later 2004 an internet bookseller in Pennsylvania specialising in book ‘collectables’ was asking as much as $US485 for the first American edition, with British booksellers advertising the first American edition at $US281, and Australian outlets were offering the British Collins one for more than $US380. While these are the exceptions, there is a persistent vogue of assembling as many as possible of the now numerous editions with their brightly-coloured dust jackets, as well as those of his works translated/prepared for sale in the European language countries. (A recent check of the internet revealed Japanese and German editions, as well as Welsh, and a considerable readership in Holland and in Germany.)

Similarly, in November 2004 the research base, Google, was listing more than 200,000 website references largely to our Robert Barnard, to market prices for his books in various editions, to library series featuring editions of his texts, as well as to bibliophile details of his works as indicated by many organisations, American university and public libraries, and the like. It was also noted that there appeared to be a particular effort being made at the University of Adelaide to collect relevant detective fictions, Barnard’s included.

The following is a skeletal listing of some of the major editions and their publishers in a roughly chronological sequence.

(A) Mystery Novels

Death of an Old Goat. Collins, 1974; Walker and Co, 1977; Penguin, England, 1977; Viking Penguin (US), 1983, 1985 and 1987; Mysterious Press, 1990. Compare its 1994 edition in Dales Large Print Books. Re-issue, 2005.

A Little Local Murder. Collins, 1976; Scribner, 1983; Hall, 1985; Dell, 1989.

Death on the High C’s. Collins, 1977; Walker and Co, 1978; Dell, 1985; Mysterious Press, 1989.

Blood Brotherhood. Collins, 1977; Walker and Co, 1978; Penguin (US), 1983; Arrow, 1990.

Unruly Son. Collins, 1978; published as Death of a Mystery Writer, Dell 1978, Scribner, 1979; Dell, 1985, and Penguin, 1995. This last comprises a collection of Barnard’s detective and mystery stories, Collins, 1979; published as Death of a Literary Widow, Scribner, 1980; Dell, 1981, etc.

Death in a Cold Climate. Collins, 1981; Scribner, 1981; GK Hall, 1981; Dell, 1982; Dell, 1986.

Mother’s Boys. Collins, 1981; Corgi, 1989; published as Death of a Perfect Mother by Scribner, 1981; Dale, 1989.

Sheer Torture. Collins, 1981, Collins, 1987, Corgi,1989,etc.; and published as Death by Sheer Torture, Scribner, 1982; Dell, 1983, 1985; Dale, 1989. [Arguably this text, one in which Treethowan investigates the murder of his own father, has more than a little of the Oedipal.]

The Missing Bronte. Collins, 1983; published as The Case of the Missing Bronte, Scribner, 1983; Nightingale, 1984; Dell, 1986.

Little Victims. Collins, 1983; published as School for Murder, Scribner, 1984; Dell, 1985.

A Corpse in a Gilded Cage. Collins, 1984; published as Corpse in a Gilded Cage, Scribner, 1984; Dell, 1985; G.K. Hall, 1985.

Out of the Blackout. Collins, 1985; Scribner, 1985; Hall, 1986; Corgi, 1988; Dell, 1989, and also released by Norton.

(The) Disposal of the Living. Collins, 1985; Corgi, 1988; published as Fete Fatale in the USA: Scribner/ Simon and Schuster, 1985; Chivers, Thorndike, (Nightingale Series),1987; Dell, 1989. Audio Cassette (complete) 2000.

Political Suicide. Scribner, 1986; Hall, 1987; Corgi, 1988; Dell, 1989, etc.

Bodies. Collins, 1986; Scribner, 1986; Thorndike, 1987; Dell, 1988; Corgi, 1988. (Both Bodies and Death in purple prose (1987) have as their subtitle: ‘a Perry Trethowan novel’.)

Death in Purple Prose 1987; but, in the US, as The Cherry Blossom

Corpse. Collins 1986; Scribner, 1987; Thorndike, 1987; Dell, 1988.

(The) Skeleton in the Grass. Collins, UK, 1987; Scribner/ Simon and Schuster, 1988; Thorndike, large print, 1988; Dell / Scribners 1989; Chivers (large print), 1989; Corgi, 1990; Penguin, USA, 1994; Viking and Penguin /Putnam); Soundings, 2000.

At Death’s Door. Collins, 1988, Dell, 1989.

Death of a Salesperson (and other untimely exits). Collins, 1989; Scribner, 1990; Corgi, 1991.

Death and the Chaste Apprentice. Collins, 1989; Scribner, 1989; Thorndike, 1990; Dell, 1990.

A City of Strangers. Collins, 1990; Scribner, 1990; Bantam, 1990.

And from the mid 1980s onwards, there are many fascinating notices, letters about the presentation of his rarer early editions in good condition in the trade journal, Bookseller.

In very general terms, it could be said that the mid-1980’s had seen a great increase in Barnard’s readers by reason of the early mass issue of various paperbacks in the United States, and the wide release of large type versions on both sides of the Atlantic by several publishing houses/series. From that time on, American booksellers refer to him as reaching the “mass market”, and this is much assisted by his regular visits to North America, lecturing there, numerous media interviews, and appearing at large gatherings of mystery writers. The late 1980s would see the great cult, both popular and more “high brow”, of his writing in Britain, and this has in no way diminished. Indeed, he has become something of an iconic figure now, with his long residence in Leeds and activities with and on behalf of the Bronte Society.

Some of the later books in his prolific sequences may be listed very briefly, with no attempt to distinguish between their multiple editions and reprints, especially with the various large-print editions—and now e-books—in the United States of America.

1989: Sheer Torture. A corpse in a gilded cage Death and the chaste apprentice.

1990: At Death’s Door. The Skeleton in the Grass. A City of Strangers (and a Dell edition in 1991).

1991: Death and the Princess. Death in a Cold Climate. Death and the Chaste Apprentice. Death of a salesperson.

1991: A Scandal in Belgravia. (Also in Audiobooks, read by Frederick Davidson—and published. in 1991 in the USA, in Bantam; Dell, 1992); hardcovered editions in 1994; Poisoned Pen paperback, 2000; A little local murder (a re-issue of the second novel). Posthumous papers. The missing Bronte. A fatal attachment (and 1993)

1993: A fatal attachment. (And publ. 1992, by Scribners;1993 in New York, by Simon/Schuster; and, in 1994, by Morrow/Avon). Later as an audio book, read by Frederick Davidson. A hovering of vultures. (This last text, like A fatal attachment, was released in the USA a year before the English edition.) Little victims ( a re-issue of the original text of 1983). To die like a gentleman—(issued under the pseudonym of Bernard Bastable see below). Masters of the House (and, apparently, a reprint by Scribners in 1994).

1994: Dead, Mr Mozart (issued under the pseudonym of Bernard Bastable).

1995: The Masters of the House. (This work also has a tape version, read by Nigel Graham.)The Bad Samaritan. Dead, Mr Mozart.

1996: The Habit of Widowhood and other murderous proclivities. Scribner.

1997: No Place of Safety.

1998: The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori. (This has many UK reprints.)

1999: A Murder in Mayfair. (Also published as Touched by the dead.)

2000: Unholy Dying. Scribner, 2001.

2001: The Bones in the Attic. (This text, sub-titled ‘A Novel of Suspense’, also had an e-book version in 2002.) Also, from Scribner, 2002, and by Harper Collins. In Braille, 2003.

2002: The Mistress of Alderley. Scribner, 2002. (Also issued in 2003).

2003: A Cry from the Dark Also issued by Scribner, New York, 2004.

2004: The Graveyard Position ; also (Scribner) in May 2005, and as an Allison and Busby paperback, September, 2005; also as an e-book.

2005: (Sept. in the U.K.) Dying Flames.

Other Thorndike Large Print Basic Series texts of his include: A Murder in Mayfair.

The pseudonym Bernard Bastable is used by Barnard for mysteries which are set in earlier historical periods than the (recent) present: e.g.

To die like a gentleman, St Martin’s, 1993;

Dead, Mr Mozart, 1994.

Too Many Notes, Mr Mozart, 1995.

A Mansion and its Murder, 1998.

(B) Other Publications

Imagery and Theme in the Novels of Dickens. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget; New York: Humanities Press, 1974. (The book is also No 17 in the series Norwegian Studies in English.) It is in 21cm format. (It had been preceeded by various Dickens articles, such as his ‘A landscape with figures: Characterization and expression in Hard Times’, in the Dickens Studies Annual Volume 1 1970. Barnard’s work is widely quoted in various guides to Charles Dickens, notably his treatment of imagery and theme in Dickens’ Great Expectations.

A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie. Dodd, 1980; Fontana, Collins, Mysterious, 1987. Also released in 1990. Contributions to H.R.F. Keating (ed.), Whodunit. Windward, 1982.

A Short History of English Literature. Basil Blackwell, 1984. Also released in 1994.

Contribution to Dilys Winn (ed.), Murder Ink. Rev. edition, Workman Publishing, 1984.

Short stories contributed to: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, etc.

Articles contributed to Books and Bookmen, London Magazine, Armchair Detective, and the Times Literary Supplement.

His Introductions to many American editions of mysteries by Josephine Tey (the pen name of Elizabeth MacKintosh, 1896-1952), e.g. to her. The Daughter of Time(originally published in 1951), with its Scotland Yard inspector, Alan Grant; and to Brat Farrar, as well as to her Miss Pym Disposes.

His introductions to: To Love and Be Wise; The Singing Sands; and to The Man in the Queue.

His own Emily Bronte, 2000. (This was published for the British Library, London, in their ‘The British Library writers’ lives series. )

(C) Critical and other accessible commentary materials on Barnard’s fictions

Many pieces about Robert Barnard have appeared in such journals as the New York Times Book Review, Time; Publishers Weekly, Newsweek, New Republic, Washington Post, Bookworld, etc. since 1980. He featured in The Times (London) on 19 April 1980, as he has done on various occasions since.

J S Ryan, ‘Just Some Childish Itch to Play Detective’ or ‘Armidale as the Threshing Floor for the Literary Career of Robert Barnard’, Armidale and District Historical Journal and Proceeding, No. 34 (1991), pp.61-67. (This article, which only goes up to 1990, is a version of the earlier parts of the present paper.)

The Gale Reference Company treats of Robert Barnard (with 1936, a year early, as date of birth) in the following of their publications: Contemporary Author New Revision vol. 54, with earlier sketches in Contemporary Author 77-80 and in Contemporary Author New Revision vol 36, where there is also an interview, and they also feature him in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 276.

From very brief early mentions in its columns, e.g. on p.541, 7 May 1976 of A Little Local MurderThe Times Literary Supplement has come to treat his work very much more carefully, particularly in various overview articles such as ‘Criminal Proceedings’ by T J Binyon, the latter long ago averring there that “Barnard can write most under the table with one hand tied behind his back”. Similar comments are to be found from him in the following notices: of Death in Purple Prose, 9-15 October 1987, TLS, p.1124; of Skeleton in the Grass, 22-28 July 1988, TLS, p.818; or of At Death’s Door, 4-10 November 1988, TLS, p.1236.

As may be expected, the amount of material about him on the world wide web is enormous, particularly since many libraries in England and the United States list their Barnard accessions and several holdings most prominently, while maintaining websites which invite discussion of his plots, frank reviews, and comparisons ranging over his career. It would often seem to be the case that these responses have much to do with the various re-releases of the earlier novels, as well as publicising his increasing numbers of short stories.

Perhaps we may leave the criticism of the irrepressible Robert Barnard, that unexpected

Armidalian resident, with the eminently sane Google-quoted comment defining him thus on September 8, 2004, by Steven Russell-Thomas, as the consummate mystery-writer: sly, ingenious, wicked, and literate. Each novel is unique, always with engaging characters, believable situations, unexpected solutions.

(D) Progressive Honours Of Various Kinds

Robert Barnard has been recognised in various ways by his fellow writers, crime editors and various judging panels on many occasions, and to date has been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award (i.e. the Edgar Allan Poe Award, honouring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, television and film) on no less than nine occasions.

One of the best indications of his steadily growing popularity, especially in North America, is the impressive sequence of stories of his to appear in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (issued by Davis Publications, New York), as indicated now for these inclusions:

Vol. 88, pt. 3, September 1986, ‘Hardacre Hall’, pp.18-27;

Vol. 88, pt. 5, November 1986, ‘My Last Girl Friend’, pp.62-65;

Vol. 88, pt. 7, mid-December 1986, ‘The Injured Party’, pp.87-101;

Vol. 89, No 1, January 1987, ‘Breakfast Television’, pp.34-43;

Vol. 89, No 4, April 1987, ‘The Oxford Way of Death’, pp.26-39;

Vol. 90, No 2, August 1987, ‘Perfect Honeymoon’, pp.20-28; and

Vol. 90, No 6, Dec 1987, ‘The Woman in the Wardrobe’, pp.83-97.

(He would appear in its columns again as recently as August 2004.)

At the same time he was already appearing very regularly in collections of stories on both sides of the Atlantic, as the following summary list of his appearances will indicate:

Winter’s Crimes 18 (1986);

The Year’s Best Mystery and Suspense Stories 1988 (1988);

Masterpieces of Mystery and Suspense (1988);

Winter’s Crimes 21 (1989);

Under the Gun (1990); Winter’s Crimes 22 (1990);

A Classic English Crime (1990);

The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories (1990); Christmas Stalkings (1991);

Winter’s Crimes 23 (1991); Midwinter Mysteries (1991);

Fifty years of the Best from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (1991);

Murders for the Fireside: The Best of Winter’s Crimes (1992);

1st Culprit: A Crime Writers’ Association Annual (1992);

The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories: First Annual Edition (1992); Second (1993); etc., etc.

In the next three years he would appear in some 15 other such story collections, and then in even more prestigious anthologies such as in A Century of Great Suspense Stories (2001), or in The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, in both 2001 and 2002.

And this list of anthologies/compilations should include mention of his own The Habit of Widowhood and Other Murderous Proclivities (Scribner, New York, 1996), a collection of some 17 of his stories originally published in magazines and elsewhere from 1987 onward.

Collections featuring his work that [in August 2005] have been advertised for the northern hemisphere 2005 Christmas season include:

Christmas Stalkings (Time Warner), selected by Charlotte MacLeod; the hardcover, Murder Most Divine: Ecclesiastical Tales of Unholy Crimes, edited by Ralph Macinerny and Martin H Greenberg;

T Simon Brett (ed.), The Detection Collection, a brand new collection to celebrate 75 years of the Detection Club (in England); and a re-issue of The Best British Mysteries 2005, edited by Martin Edwards, which includes Robert Barnard’s ‘The Cairo Road’.

Robert Barnard is also much in the general readership’s mind as a crime writer in the United States, since this year, 2005, is the centenary of the year of birth the two cousins, Frederic Dannay and Manfred B Lee, who jointly wrote the genre-defining Ellery Queen stories.

(E) Major Awards, Honours, and Listings for Robert Awards

(always given in the year following publication of the item so selected):

• In 1989 he received the Agatha Award for the Best Short Story, ‘More Final than Divorce’.

• In 1991 he received the Nero Wolfe Award for his novel, A Scandal in Belgravia.

• In 1998 he was Guest of Honour at the 1998 Malice Domestic mystery conference and had then received the Golden Handcuffs

Award for his achievements.

• In May 1999, he had received an award from the Canadian Newspaper Association in Toronto (www.cna-acj.ca/client/cna/cna.nsf/web/Conference 1999—this site was cached on 15 August 2005).

In 2003 Robert Barnard was awarded the CWA (Crime Writers Association) Cartier Diamond Dagger for his lifetime achievement in crime writing, the presentation being made at the British Library in the company of his wife Louise and of many of his fellow writers. (This award had been set up in 1986, when the first winner was Eric Ambler, and subsequent winners had included P D James, Ruth Rendell, Ellis Peters and Colin Dexter.)

In 2004 he was nominated by Deadly Pleasures for the Barry Award—or excellence in crime writing—for the year’s Best Mystery Short Story, ‘Rogues Gallery’, which was published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in March 2003. This award was made at the Boucheron, the World Mystery Convention, held in Toronto in October 2004.

He was also nominated for the 2004 Macavity Award by Mystery Writers International for work published in the US in 2003.

In April 2006 he is to be honoured at the Malice Domestic gathering in Washington DC for Lifetime Achievement by the Mystery Writers of America. However, perhaps his most impressive service to mystery writing is his unique leadership work with the British Mystery and Crime Writers Programme (see http://crimespreemag.com/sthildas.html), which has held its annual conference at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, every high summer since 1994.

That year the topic-theme had been ‘The Queens of Crime’, and one of the speakers had been Robert Barnard, who also spoke in 1995 on the theme, ‘The Golden Age—There and Now’. In 1998 he had chaired the conference which had as its theme ‘Men (and Women) in Blue’, while, in 2000, he was co-chair of that occasion with the theme ‘Mind Games, Psychology, Crime and Mystery’. In 2003, he had spoken about the work of Marjory Allingham, while in 2005, over the weekend 19-21 August, he was the Guest of Honour at that conference.

In the literature of the detection field, Robert Barnard is much praised for his knowledge of music, his ability to handle earlier British culture, historical plots and literature, and for his feel for music which is manifested in so many of his stories.

He has regularly been placed on the mystery List for the ‘Top 50 Mystery Authors’ (as, for example, selected by Grobius Shortling—mysterylist.com), where the names cited include (from Britain) Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming. On this world listing,, Robert Barnard is one of the few, from its worldwide range of quality fiction writers, to have five titles listed, these being cited in this order: Death of a Mystery Writer, Death of a Literary Widow, Death of a Perfect Mother, Death of an Old Goat and Out of the Blackout.


A recent portrait of Robert Barnard


1 All identified quotations in the text are taken from the first hard-covered edition (of 1974), as published in The Crime Club Series by William Collins & Sons, London.

2 Thus it was also issued as a Mysterious Press book (in association with Arrow Books Limited). Later novels of Barnard’s were normally distributed in Australia by Transworld. The much later issue of his A Cry from the Dark (v. infra) has certainly provoked much (American) reader curiosity about yesterday’s rural (and academic) New South Wales, not least because of a certain similarity in its plot to the life pattern of the intellectual, Barbara Ker Conway’s earlier life story of her girlhood on an isolated sheep station, her The Road from Coorain (1989).

3 Compare B Oakley’s various but much less probing tilts at the University of Melbourne in his 1960s novels, particularly in his A Wild Ass of a Man (1967), while Thomas Keneally also glances at various aspects of the University of New England in both his The Survivor (1969) and A Dutiful Daughter (1971). Barnard himself is also clearly familiar with several British “Angry” writers with an eye on the 1950s-1960s British university scene, such as John Wain, Kingsley Amis and John Braine. He was also aware of David Forrest’s witty novel on Australian banking as institution, The Hollow Woodheap (1962), and so thoroughly debunking it

4 Earlier it had been a tiny University College, a part of the long established University of Sydney.

5 Named from the Hon. D Drummond, of New England, a founder figure of the real university, who had been both state and federal Minister for Education, and was still alive when Barnard had come to Armidale.

6 Some readers may recall them both playing small parts in Brendan Behan’s The Hostage in the stylised readings of the play in the old Milton Lecture Theatre in 1963. Barnard himself had a study-office in the southern half of that building. He had spent also several of his years here living as a Resident Fellow in Gamma Block of Wright College (called “Menzies” in the text, and given the original’s set of five “white blocks” (p.179) ) with between the buildings, a central tree, actually an oak but turned by Barnard into “the college gum-tree”. In the novel he is made to reside in E Block—the south western one of the cluster. His love for opera—and Mozart in particular—is still remembered in the University and by his Australian friends, and musical matters/subjects are made part of the plot of his third “novel”, Death on the High C’s (1977).

7 Contemporary Author, New Revision Series, volume 20, 1987, pp.36-40. Barnard had earlier appeared in the related series, Contemporary Author, volumes 77-80, 1979, p.28.

8 This matter of syllabus revision – in order to be trendy, and seemingly keeping up with developments elsewhere – is shown to be an obsession in Drummondale’s English Department (pp. 81, 95, 130, etc.), so that it has even been noted by the grazier wives.

9 This article is made a part of the reason for the book’s quite modest hero’s going to Drummondale in the first place. See below for reference to early articles of his in the area of the Victorian novel.

10 The University of Bergen conferred this degree on him in 1972.

11 It is currently in print in England as a Fontana Paperback. In all editions, ML Barnard, Robert’s wife, contributed the considerable bibliography (pp.134-199), while there is also given a substantial list of the Christie films (pp.200-203).

12 Barnard to interviewer, as reported in CANRS (Contemporary Author New Revision Series), vol. 20, (1987), p.39. Since the later 1990s, there have also been the very numerous electronic reviews, added to the open sheets provided by numerous Public Libraries and on which readers are invited to record their views. While not all of these stay on the web, any one of his books is now so treated dozens of times in the first few years of its life.

13 Ibid. Yet in 1988 four volumes would go into English paperback, and six would do likewise in 1989.

14 Quoted in CANRS, vol.20, p.37.

15 The Death of an Old Goat contains many affectionate if irreverent glances at the nineteenth century English novel, and particularly at the work of Jane Austen and of Charles Dickens.

16 Being held at Bergen in Norway. Robert Barnard’s father had himself long been a writer of romantic novels of this sort.

17 The present writer has not seen himself in the text, despite being a member of the same small Department at the time. Yet others are not quite so sure. Some details of the second novel, A Little Local Murder (1976), also suggest that Barnard had not forgotten New England, as some of the names and tones cross over.

18 This is not by any means an exhaustive list but one derived from the 1987 (select?) bibliography in Contemporary Author and later Books in Print listings. Some American editions like the large type Thorndike versions for the partially sighted have been released both in Britain and in the USA. The present writer was amazed to see that Barnard’s work had been given a whole window in the Cambridge bookshop of Dillon’s in the Christmas season of 1989.

John S Ryan



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