Barry Pain

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Barry Pain in 1891.jpg
Born (1864-09-28)28 September 1864
Died 5 May 1928(1928-05-05) (aged 63)

Barry Eric Odell Pain (28 September 1864 – 5 May 1928) was an English journalist, poet and writer.


Born in Cambridge, Barry Pain was educated at Sedbergh School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[1] He became a prominent contributor to The Granta. He was known as a writer of parody and lightly humorous stories.[2]

In 1889, Cornhill Magazine's editor, James Payn, published his story "The Hundred Gates", and shortly afterwards Pain became a contributor to Punch and The Speaker, and joined the staffs of the Daily Chronicle and Black and White.[2] Pain supposedly "owes his discovery to Robert Louis Stevenson, who compares him to De Maupassant".[3]

Pain's works include In a Canadian Canoe (1891), papers reprinted from The Granta; Playthings and Parodies (1892); The Kindness of the Celestial (1894); The Octave of Claudius (1897); Eliza (1900); Another English Woman's Love Letters (1901);[2] The Shadow of the Unseen (1907); An Exchange of Souls (1911); Marge Askinforit (1920); and others. Stories in the Dark (1901) and Stories In Grey (1911) contain several of Pain's horror stories, including the famous "The Moon-Slave". Going Home (1921) is a sentimental fantasy story about a winged man.[4]

Alfred Noyes was a friend of Pain's and for several summers they were near neighbours at Rottingdean. In Noyes' autobiography, one of the longest chapters is devoted to Pain.[5]

Noyes particularly admired Pain's novel The Exiles of Faloo (1910), of which he writes: "It is the story of an island in the Pacific, to which a number of scoundrels of various kinds, together with other men not entirely scoundrels but broken by the law, had escaped 'beyond the law's pursuing.' They establish a Club, with rules designed for the circumstances, one of which naturally was that no credit should be given. Gradually, through the original flaws in character, the society ends disastrously in conflict with the native population. There is humour and heroism, beauty and tragedy in the tale and, like all great stories, it is a parable".[6]

Eliza was serialised by BBC Radio 4 in 2006. Prior to this, in 1992, twelve of the stories were adapted for BBC2 as ten minute shorts, featuring Sue Roderick as Eliza and John Sessions as her husband.

An Exchange of Souls is credited with being inspirational to H. P. Lovecraft, specifically in his short story "The Thing on the Doorstep".

In 2006, Hippocampus Press re-published An exchange of Souls together with Henri Béraud's Lazarus.


  1. ^ "Pain, Barry Eric Odell (PN883BE)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b c  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Pain, Barry". Encyclopædia Britannica 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 456. 
  3. ^ "Short stories Dickensesque". The Independent. 28 Dec 1914. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Clute 1997, p. 742.
  5. ^ Noyes 1953, p. 161-176.
  6. ^ Noyes 1953, pp. 161-2.


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