Clive Barker

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Clive Barker
Barker at the Science Fiction Museum in 2007
Barker at the Science Fiction Museum in 2007
Born (1952-10-05) 5 October 1952 (age 68)
Liverpool, England
OccupationAuthor, film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, playwright, painter, illustrator, visual artist, game producer, comic writer and comic artist
GenreHorror, fantasy
Notable awardsInkpot Award (1991)[1]
PartnersJohn Gregson (1975–1986)
David Armstrong (1996–2009)
John Ray Raymond Jr. (2009–present)

Clive Barker (born 5 October 1952) is an English playwright, novelist, film director, and visual artist. Barker 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, and his fiction has been adapted into films, notably the Hellraiser and Candyman series.

He was 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 featured in galleries in the United States as well as within his own books. He has created original characters and series for comic books, and some of his more popular horror stories have been featured in ongoing comics series.

Early life[edit]

Barker was born in Liverpool, the son of Joan Ruby (née Revill), a painter and school welfare officer, and Leonard Barker, a personnel director for an industrial relations firm.[2][3] He was educated at Dovedale Primary School, Quarry Bank High School and the University of Liverpool, where he studied English and philosophy.[4]

When he was three years old, Barker witnessed the French skydiver Léo Valentin plummet to his death during a performance at an air show in Liverpool. Barker would later allude to Valentin in many of his stories.[5]

Theatrical work[edit]

Barker's involvement in live theater 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.[6]

He co-founded the avant-garde theatrical troupe The Dog Company in 1978 with former school friends and up and coming actors, many of which 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.[7] 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.[6]

From 1982 to 1983, he also created three plays, including Crazyface, for the Cockpit Youth Theatre.[6]

His theatrical work would come to a close as he shifted focus to writing the Books of Blood.

Writing career[edit]

Barker is an author of horror/fantasy. He began writing horror early in his career, mostly in the form of short stories (collected in Books of Blood 1–6) and the Faustian novel The Damnation Game (1985). Later he moved toward modern-day fantasy and urban fantasy with horror elements in Weaveworld (1987), The Great and Secret Show (1989), the world-spanning Imajica (1991), and Sacrament (1996).

When Books of Blood were first published in the United States in paperback, Stephen King was quoted on the book covers: "I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker."[8] As influences on his writing, Barker lists Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, William S. Burroughs, William Blake, and Jean Cocteau, among others.[9]

He is the writer of the best-selling Abarat series.

Personal life[edit]

During his early years as a writer, he would occasionally work as a male prostitute when his writing didn't provide sufficient income.[10]

In 2003, Barker received the Davidson/Valentini Award at the 15th GLAAD Media Awards.[11]

Barker is critical of organized religion, but has said that the Bible influences his work and spirituality.[12] In a 2003 appearance on Politically Incorrect, Barker stated that he was a Christian after Ann Coulter implied he was not,[13] although years later, he said he does not identify as a Christian via Facebook.[14]

Barker said in a December 2008 online interview (published in March 2009) that he had polyps in his throat which were so severe that a doctor told him he was taking in ten percent of the air he was supposed to have been getting. He has had two surgeries to remove them and believes his resultant voice is an improvement over how it was prior to the surgeries. He said he did not have cancer and has given up cigars.[15]

In 2012, Barker went into coma for several days after having contracted toxic shock syndrome, triggered by a visit to the dentist which unloaded a spillage of poisonous bacteria into his bloodstream, almost claiming his life.[16] Realizing he might have just a short time left to live, he decided to put his personal concerns about the world and society into the upcoming novel Deep Hill, which he then thought could be his final book.[17]

As of 2015, he is a member of the board of advisers for the Hollywood Horror Museum.[18]


While appearing on the radio call-in show Loveline on 20 August 1996, Barker stated that during his teens he had several relationships with older women, but came to identify himself as homosexual by 18 or 19 years old.[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.

Film work[edit]

Barker wrote the screenplays for Underworld (1985) and Rawhead Rex (1986), both directed by George Pavlou. Displeased by how his material was handled, he moved to directing with Hellraiser (1987), based on his novella The Hellbound Heart. After his film Nightbreed (1990) flopped, Barker returned to write and direct Lord of Illusions (1995). The short story "The Forbidden", from Barker's Books of Blood, provided the basis for the 1992 film Candyman and its two sequels. He had been working on a series of film adaptations of his The Abarat Quintet books under The Walt Disney Company's management,[20] but due to creative differences, the project was cancelled.[21]

He served as an executive producer for the 1998 film Gods and Monsters,[22][23] a semi-fictional tale of Frankenstein director James Whale’s later years, which won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[24] 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."[25] Barker also provided the forward 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.[26]

In October 2006, Barker announced through his website that he will be writing the script to a forthcoming remake of the original Hellraiser film.[27][28] He is developing a film based on his Tortured Souls line of toys from McFarlane Toys.

Television work[edit]

In May 2015, Variety reported that Clive Barker was developing a television series adaptation of various creepypastas in partnership with Warner Brothers, to be called Clive Barker's Creepypastas, a feature arc based on Slender Man and Ben Drowned.[29] Barker was involved in a streaming service film adaptation of The Books of Blood in 2020,[30] and is developing a Nightbreed television series directed by Michael Dougherty and written by Josh Stolberg for SyFy.[31][32] In April 2020, HBO was announced to be developing a Hellraiser television series that would serve as "an elevated continuation and expansion" of its mythology with Mark Verheiden and Michael Dougherty writing the series and David Gordon Green directing several episodes. Verheiden, Dougherty and Green will also be executive producing the series with Danny McBride, Jody Hill, Brandon James and Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment.[33]

Visual art[edit]

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.

He worked on the horror video game Clive Barker's Undying, providing the voice for the character Ambrose. Undying was developed by DreamWorks Interactive and released in 2001. He worked on Clive Barker's Jericho for Codemasters, which was released in late 2007.

Barker created Halloween costume designs for Disguise Costumes.[34][35]

Around 150 art works by Barker were used in the set of the Academy of the Unseen Arts for the Netflix TV series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.[36]

Comic books[edit]

Barker published his Razorline imprint via Marvel Comics in 1993.

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 novels Tapping 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.[37]

In October 2009, IDW published Seduth, co-written by Barker. The work was released with three variant covers.[38]

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.



Short story collections[edit]

  • Books of Blood (1984–1985)
  • The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction (2000). Contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories.
  • First Tales (2013)
  • Tonight, Again: Tales of Love, Lust and Everything in Between (2015). Contains 32 short stories.
  • Fear Eternal (TBA)


  • The Presence of This Breath[41] (TBA)


  • 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)


  • Incarnations: Three Plays (1995)
  • Forms of Heaven: Three Plays (1996)


  • Clive Barker, Illustrator series:
    1. Clive Barker, Illustrator (1990)
    2. Illustrator II: The Art of Clive Barker (1992)
  • Visions of Heaven and Hell (2005)
  • Clive Barker: Imaginer series:
    1. Clive Barker: Imaginer Volume 1 (2014)
    2. Clive Barker: Imaginer Volume 2 (2015)
    3. Clive Barker: Imaginer Volume 3 (2016)
    4. Clive Barker: Imaginer Volume 4 (2017)
    5. Clive Barker: Imaginer Volume 5 (2018)
    6. Clive Barker: Imaginer Volume 6 (2018)
    7. Clive Barker: Imaginer Volume 7 (2020)
    8. Clive Barker: Imaginer Volume 8 (2020)


  • Tortured Souls (2001–2002). Series of 12 action figures (six designed in 2001 and six in 2002) and a novelette starring the characters of the first six action figures
  • The Infernal Parade (2004) Co-created with Todd McFarlane, series of six action figures and a novelette detailing the backstories of the characters.


Year Title Director Producer Writer Executive Producer
1985 Underworld
1986 Rawhead Rex
1987 Hellraiser
1988 Hellbound: Hellraiser II
1990 Nightbreed
1992 Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
1995 Lord of Illusions
1996 Hellraiser: Bloodline
1998 Gods and Monsters
2002 Saint Sinner
2006 The Plague
2008 The Midnight Meat Train
2009 Book of Blood
2020 Books of Blood
TBA The Hellbound Heart
TBA Born

Video games[edit]

Critical studies of Barker's work[edit]

  • 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.
  • Douglas E. Winter, Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic New York: Harper, 2002, ISBN 0066213924.
  • Edwin F. Casebeer, "Clive Barker (1952- )" in: Darren Harris-Fain (ed.) British Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Since 1960. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson/Gale, 2002, ISBN 0787660051.
  • K. A. Laity, "Clive Barker" in: Richard Bleiler, ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers: Contemporary Fantasy and Horror. New York: Thomson/Gale, 2003, ISBN 0684312506.
  • Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, (Ed.) Clive Barker - Dark imaginer. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017. 280pp. ISBN 9780719096921.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ "Clive Barker Biography". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Abrams, Michael (2006). Birdmen, Batmen, and Skyflyers: Wingsuits and the Pioneers Who Flew in Them, Fell in Them, and Perfected Them. New York: Harmony Books. pp. 131–132. ISBN 978-1-4000-5491-6.
  6. ^ a b c "The Official Clive Barker Website - Revelations - Theatre". Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "The Official Clive Barker Resource : Revelations - News Stephen King Award - Speech". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Influences". Clive Barker Revelations. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  10. ^ Q&A: ‘Hellraiser’ Author Clive Barker on Almost Dying, Hustling, and Killing Pinhead
  11. ^ "Publications". GLAAD. Archived from the original on 13 December 2003. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  12. ^ "The Official Clive Barker Website - Spirituality". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  13. ^ Presenter: Bill Maher (25 April 2003). "Season 1, Episode 10". Politically Incorrect. Fairfax District, Los Angeles. 60 minutes in. HBO. CBS Television City.
  14. ^ "Clive Barker". Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Art and the Artist: An Interview with Clive Barker". Strange Horizons. March 2009. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010.
  16. ^ "Clive Barker recovering from 'near fatal' case of toxic shock syndrome". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  17. ^ "The Official Clive Barker Website - Revelations Interview 33".
  18. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (14 September 2015). "Top Horror Masterminds Creating "The Hollywood Horror Museum"". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Clive Barker". Classic Loveline. Episode 233. Los Angeles, California, United States. 20 August 1996. KROQ-FM. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  20. ^ Green, Willow (16 April 2000). "Clive Barker goes Disney". EmpireOnline.
  21. ^ "Clive Barker and Disney part ways". TheDisneyBlog. 11 September 2006.
  22. ^ Harvey, Dennis (24 January 1998). "Gods and Monsters". Variety. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  23. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (11 November 1998). "From Candyman to Frankenstein, Bill Condon Talks "Gods and Monsters"". IndieWire. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  24. ^ "Film Review: Gods and Monsters". BBC News. 16 March 1999. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  25. ^ Michael, Dennis (5 November 1998). "The 'Gods and Monsters' of James Whale". CNN. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  26. ^ "Clive Barker to form Midnight Picture Show". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  27. ^ "The Official Clive Barker Website - Revelations Interview 15". Archived from the original on 18 May 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  28. ^ [2] Archived 22 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Spangler, Todd (4 May 2015). "NewFronts 2015: Machinima Announces 'RoboCop,' Clive Barker and Other Series". Variety. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  30. ^ Jenkins, Jason (14 October 2020). "'Books of Blood': Brannon Braga on the Clive Barker Renaissance and the Sequels He Hopes to Make". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  31. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (22 June 2018). "'Nightbreed' TV Series Reboot From Clive Barker & Morgan Creek in Works at Syfy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  32. ^ Hermans, Grant (30 September 2020). "Exclusive: Godzilla's Michael Dougherty to Direct Nightbreed Series!". Coming Soon. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  33. ^ Throne, Will (27 April 2020). "'Hellraiser' Series in Development at HBO". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  34. ^ "Dress Up Like Clive Barker's Nightmares". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  35. ^ "Clive Barkers Enters the 'Dark Bazaar' with JAKKS Pacific". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  36. ^ "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina production designer on creating the terrifying occult world of Greendale- Entertainment News, Firstpost". Firstpost. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  37. ^ [3] Archived 29 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ [4] Archived 15 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ ""Hellraiser: The Toll" by Mark Miller [Review]". CliveBarkerCast. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  40. ^ "Hellraiser: The Toll". Subterranean Press. Archived from the original on 19 November 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  41. ^ "The book of poems, which is called The Presence of This Breath, contains about 280 poems..."
  42. ^ Gronli, Jonathan. "What Happened To: Clive Barker's Demonik". Technology Tell. Retrieved 31 October 2016.

External links[edit]