Peter Parker (author)

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Peter Parker
Parker in Dublin, November 2018
Parker in Dublin, November 2018
BornPeter Robert Nevill Parker
(1954-06-02) 2 June 1954 (age 65)
Herefordshire England
OccupationBiographer, Historian, Journalist and Editor
EducationEnglish Literature, University College, London
GenreBiography, History, Gardening, Architecture, Non-Fiction

Peter Parker (born 2 June 1954) is a British biographer, historian, journalist and editor.[1] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997.[2]

Life and career[edit]


Parker was born to Edward Parker and Patricia Sturridge[3] on 2 June 1954 in Herefordshire in the West Midlands of England. He attended the Downs Malvernin Colwall and Canford School in Dorset, and read English Literature at University College, London. He began a career in literary journalism while working in the Design Centre's bookshop in the 1980s, contributing regular book reviews to Gay News and the London Magazine. He published a number of short stories in the London Magazine, Fiction Magazine, Critical Quarterly and three PEN/Arts Council anthologies.


Parker subsequently turned to writing non-fiction, and his first book, The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public-School Ethos[4][5] was published by Constable in 1987. A paperback edition, with a new introduction, was published by Bloomsbury in 2007.[6][7]

Parker's second book Ackerley: The Life of J.R. Ackerley was published by Constable in the UK in 1989[8] and by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in America.[9][10][11][12]

He edited (and wrote much of) two literary encyclopedias: A Reader’s Guide to the Twentieth-Century Novel[13][14] published in the UK by 4th Estate and Helicon in 1994[15] and in America by Oxford University Press in 1995, and A Reader’s Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers[16] published in the UK by 4th Estate and Helicon in 1995[17][15] and in America by Oxford University Press in 1996.

Parker then wrote the "definitive" biography of Christopher Isherwood which took him 12 years to finish; as he said, "I was married to Christopher Isherwood for 12 years and to JR Ackerley I think only for four."[18] The book was published in 2004, on the centenary of Isherwood's birth, by Pan Macmillan in the UK under the title Isherwood[19] and by Random House in America under the title Isherwood: A Life Revealed.[20] David Thomson, in the New Republic described it as, "Immense and magnificent … A Life Revealed is a modest subtitle for such a daunting process of reconstruction and re-appraisal."[21]

The Last Veteran: Harry Patch and the Legacy of War[22] was published by Fourth Estate on Armistice Day in 2009. Simon Heffer in the Telegraph called it, "A fine work of research and of history. Parker tells the story of how the War came to an end and how the aftermath was coped with."[23]

Parker's Housman Country: Into the Heart of England, is cultural history of A Shropshire Lad, was published by Little, Brown in 2016.[24][25] It was among the Financial Times, the Spectator, the Evening Standard and the Sunday Times Best Books of 2016. The book was published in the US in 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux[24][26] and was A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and Nominated for the 2017 PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography.[27]

Parker wrote a discursive account of the history and origins of plant names in his book A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners[28] published by Little, Brown in 2018.[29][30]

Parker in London, January 2019


Parker was an associate editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography(2004) and remains an advisory editor for the regular updates to the project.

Among the books Parker has contributed are Scribner’s British Writers (on L.P. Hartley, 2002), the seventh edition of The Oxford Companion to English Literature (2009),[31] Fifty Gay and Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read (2009) [32] and Britten’s Century, published in 2013 to mark the centenary of the composer Benjamin Britten.[33] His edition of G. F. Green's 1952 novel In the Making was published as a Penguin Modern Classic in 2012,[34] and in 2016 he wrote an introduction to the Slightly Foxed edition of Diana Petre's 1975 memoir The Secret Orchard of Roger Ackerley.[35] A full-length animated feature film of J.R. Ackerley’s book My Dog Tulip, for which he collaborated on the script and acted as advisor to the producers, was released in 2010.[36]

Parker was a member of the executive committee of English PEN from 1993 to 1997 and a trustee of the PEN Literary Foundation, acting as chair from 1999-2000.[37] He was on the committee of the London Library from 1999 to 2002, subsequently becoming a trustee (2004-07); Chair of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library Advisory Committee (2009-2013); and Vice-Chair of the Council of the Royal Society of Literature (2008-14).[2] From 2014 until 2017 he  was a Visiting Fellow in the School of Arts at the University of Northampton.

Since 1979 Parker has been a regular contributor of reviews and features to numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Listener, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph.[38] the Sunday Times[39], the Spectator,[40] the TLS,[41] the New Statesman,[42] the Oldie, Slightly Foxed,[43] Apollo[44] and the gardening quarterly HORTUS[45][46] He is on the editorial boards of both the London Library Magazine[47][48] and ‘A’ Magazine for RIBA Friends of Architecture.[49][50] Since 1990 he has been one of the judges of the annual PEN Ackerley Prize for literary autobiography, becoming chair in 2007,[37] and he was for several years one of the judges of the Encore Award for a second novel.


  1. ^ Publications, Europa (2003). International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. Psychology Press. ISBN 9781857431797.
  2. ^ a b "Royal Society of Literature » Peter Parker". Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  3. ^ "Arrow Equestrian". Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  4. ^ "The old lie : the great war and the public-school ethos / Peter Parker. Variant title: Public-school ethos. Variant title: Public-school ethos". Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  5. ^ Parker, Peter (1987). The old lie: the great war and the public-school ethos. London: Constable. ISBN 9780094669802.
  6. ^ "The Old Lie". Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  7. ^ Howard, Michael (1987-04-23). "The Great War Revisited". London Review of Books. pp. 3–5. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  8. ^ Parker, Peter (Jan 1989). Ackerley: a life of J.R. Ackerley. Constable.
  9. ^ Parker, Peter (1991-07-01). Ackerley: The Life of J.R. Ackerley. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9780374522797.
  10. ^ "THE ODDITY OF J.R. ACKERLEY". Washington Post. 1990-01-09. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  11. ^ "Ackerley". Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  12. ^ Dirda, Michael (January 9, 1990). "THE ODDITY OF J.R. ACKERLEY". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ Parker, Peter; Kermode, Frank (1994). The Reader's Companion to the Twentieth Century Novel. Fourth Estate and Helicon. ISBN 9781857022094.
  14. ^ Parker, Peter; Kermode, Frank (1995). A Reader's Guide to the Twentieth-century Novel. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195211535.
  15. ^ a b "Peter Parker". 4th Estate. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  16. ^ Parker, Peter; Kermode, Frank (1996). A Reader's Guide to Twentieth-century Writers. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195212150.
  17. ^ Parker, Peter; Kermode, Frank (1995-01-01). The Reader's Companion to Twentieth-century Writers. Fourth Estate. ISBN 9781857023329.
  18. ^ Jones, Lewis (2004-05-09). "A writer's life: Peter Parker". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  19. ^ Parker, Peter (2005). Isherwood. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 9780330328265.
  20. ^ Parker, Peter (2004). Isherwood: A Life Revealed. Random House. ISBN 1400062497.
  21. ^ Thomson, David (2005-03-21). "The Observer as Hero". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  22. ^ Parker, Peter (2009). The Last Veteran: Harry Patch and the Legacy of War. Fourth Estate. ISBN 9780007265503.
  23. ^ Heffer, Simon (2009-11-07). "The Last Veterans: Harry Patch and the Legacy of War by Peter Parker: review". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  24. ^ a b Parker, Peter (2016-06-30). Housman Country: Into the Heart of England. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 9780374537869.
  25. ^ "Peter Parker - Housman Country - Little, Brown Book Group" – via
  26. ^ "Housman Country | Peter Parker | Macmillan". US Macmillan. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  27. ^ "PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography 2018 Longlist". Brilliant Books. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  28. ^ Parker, Peter (2018-10-30). A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners. Little, Brown Book Group Limited. ISBN 9781408706169.
  29. ^ "Peter Parker - A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners - Little, Brown Book Group" – via
  30. ^ Critchley, Review by Ian. "Review: A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners by Peter Parker". Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  31. ^ Birch, Dinah, ed. (2009-09-24). The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Oxford Companions (Seventh ed.). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192806871.
  32. ^ Canning, Richard (2009). 50 Gay and Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read. Alyson Books. ISBN 9781593501198.
  33. ^ Bostridge, Mark (2013-01-01). Britten's Century: Celebrating 100 Years of Benjamin Britten. A&C Black. ISBN 9781441177902.
  34. ^ Green, G. F. (2012-04-05). In the Making. Penguin UK. ISBN 9780141970776.
  35. ^ Petre, Diana (1993). The Secret Orchard of Roger Ackerley. Phoenix. ISBN 9781857990164.
  36. ^ "My Dog Tulip". The Bark. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  37. ^ a b "PEN Ackerley Prize 2018". English PEN. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  38. ^ Parker, Peter (2004-11-19). "A bar-room bore who could also listen". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  39. ^ PARKER, REVIIEWED BY PETER (2006-02-26). "Peter Parker reviews Ludmila's Broken English by DBC Pierre". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  40. ^ "Author: Peter Parker". The Spectator. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  41. ^ "Literary away-days". TheTLS. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  42. ^ "Hands across the pages: the stories of the world's most beautiful books". Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  43. ^ Parker, Peter. "Contributor". Slightly Foxed.
  44. ^ "Author: Peter Parker". Apollo Magazine. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  45. ^ "BACK ISSUE SUPER SALE". Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  46. ^ "Peter Parker Books". Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  47. ^ "Magazine". Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  48. ^ "The London Library Magazine Autumn 2018 - Issue 41". Issuu. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  49. ^ "RIBA Friends of architecture". Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  50. ^ "A Magazine for RIBA Friends of Architecture - Issue 2". Issuu. Retrieved 2019-01-13.

External links[edit]