Damian Barr

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Damian Barr
Damian Leighton Barr

(1976-07-20) 20 July 1976 (age 44)
Newarthill, Scotland
Alma materLancaster University
OccupationJournalist, writer

Damian Leighton Barr (born 20 July 1976) is a British writer, columnist, and playwright.[1] He is a host of the Literary Salon at Shoreditch House, which also encompasses the Reading Weekend. In 2014, he presented several editions of the BBC Radio 4 cultural programme Front Row. His most famous piece of work is his 2013 memoir Maggie & Me, centered around the attempted assassination in 1984 of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher by the IRA.

Early life[edit]

Barr was born in 1976 in Newarthill, Scotland. He graduated from Lancaster University in Sociology and English Literature in 1998, and in MA Contemporary Sociology in 2000.[2] In 2019 Barr obtained a PhD in creative writing from Lancaster University.


Barr's first book was published in 2006 by Hodder & Stoughton. Get It Together: How To Survive Your Quarterlife Crisis was the first book concerned with the quarter-life crisis to be published in the UK. It was inspired by a column Barr wrote for The Times in 2001–03 about graduate work and life.[3] Barr's second book is Maggie & Me, a memoir of growing up in small-town Scotland during the Thatcher years. Bloomsbury acquired the book at auction in July 2010 and it was published in the UK in April 2013.[4] Barr received a 2018 University of Otago Scottish Writers Fellowship, which is based at the Pah Homestead in Auckland, New Zealand. He is currently completing a novel set in South Africa.[5] You Will be Safe Here was released internationally on 4 April 2019.

Booker Prize controversy[edit]

In June 2020, Barr successfully led a campaign to have Baroness Emma Nicholson removed as honorary vice president of the Booker Prize, a prestigious annual prize awarded to the best English novel. This was in response to Nicholson, a peer in the House of Lords, saying that she had voted against same-sex marriage in 2013 because she believed “it would lead to degrading the status of women and of girls”, a statement Barr called "homophobic".[6]

Nicholson was subsequently removed from her position by the Booker Prize in late June 2020. Barr was accused of hypocrisy when it emerged approximately a week later that he had used offensive language toward transgender people and women on Twitter in the past. In April 2009 he wrote: “Tittering sickly @ story of 6’5” tranny who failed to hang herself from 5 ft balcony this wknd. How many failures can one person take?” This was followed by other tweets between 2009 and 2013 in which he also used the word 'tranny' or referred to women as 'bitches', as well as referring to a “nice tranny charity” and writing “lady-man truckers unite”.[7] In March, 2013, he tweeted that there was a “mad tranny going through my recycling bin”, but later that year he was advised that the word is highly offensive.

In response to his past tweets being revealed, Barr locked his account before sending out a tweet saying that he had used the word 'tranny' “flippantly, not maliciously”. He also said: “It is an unkind and hurtful word I’m embarrassed to have used. I apologised then. I remain sorry today. I listened and changed: I hope my solidarity and actions since speak louder than that word then.”.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Barr is gay.[8][9] He lives in Brighton, Sussex,[10] with his husband, ceramics artist Mike Moran.[11]


  1. ^ Barr, Damian (31 May 2014). "Damian Barr: on going home, when you never felt welcome there". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Damian Barr - Memoirs and University". Lancaster University. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  3. ^ Get it Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis. Amazon.co.uk: Damian Barr: Books
  4. ^ "Solzhenitsyn stories head rights deals". The Bookseller. 20 July 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Barr drawn to Scottish feel of city". The Otago Daily Times. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  6. ^ a b Horne, Marc (3 July 2020). "Damian Barr: Broadcaster in hypocrisy row as 'transphobic' tweets emerge". The Times. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Gay novelist Damian Barr steps down from board of England's biggest arts festival". PinkNews - Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. 25 July 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Maggie & Me". Radio Times.
  9. ^ Lesley McDowell, "Damian Barr is in two minds about memories of Margaret Thatcher", Herald Scotland, 10 August 2013.
  10. ^ Meakin, Nione (6 April 2011). "A brand new chapter". The Argus. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Interview with an influencer: Damian Barr, writer and salonnière". Hue & Cry. March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2019.