Kathleen Francis Barker was a sensitive and observant writer and illustrator of books about animals, and especially dogs and horses. In illustrating the work of other authors, she produced a fine edition of Anna Sewell’s equestrian classic, Black Beauty (1936). Kathleen Frances Barker was born at The Beeches, Wellow Road, Ollerton, Nottinghamshire, on 2 January 1901, the third of four children of (John) Wright Barker, the painter of hunting scenes and animal portraits, and his wife, Ellen Mary (née Alcock). Probably at the outbreak of the First World War, the family moved to Thorn Lea, 16 Duchy Road, Harrogate, Yorkshire, and this would remain Kathleen’s home for the remainder of her life. Following in her father’s footsteps, she produced images of animals, and especially dogs, some of which she contributed to The Field, Tailwagger and the Yorkshire Evening Post.
In 1933, Barker began to write and illustrate books, including those by other authors, most of which were published by A & C Black, Country Life and William Heinemann. Her work was informed by her love of animals and her favourite pastimes: riding, otter hunting and beagling.
Employing pen, ink and pencil, she depicted her subjects with care and affection, often concentrating on their appearance and behaviour to the exclusion of extraneous setting or action. Though commissions dried up during the Second World War, she renewed her literary activity in the 1950s, and has four books published by George G Harrap, as well as others by Country Life. She died in Harrogate on 1 April 1963.
A Preliminary Checklist of Books Illustrated by Kathleen Frances Barker 1933 K F Barker, Bellman: The Story of a Beagle, London: A & C Black K F Barker, Bellman Carries On, London: A & C Black K F Barker, Just Dogs. Sketches in Pen & Pencil, London: Country Life M E Buckingham, Phari. The Adventures of Tibetan Pony, London: Country Life
1934 K F Barker, Traveller’s Joy: Gentleman & Puller, London: Country Life M E Buckingham, Zong: A Hill Pony, London: Country Life C M D Enriquez, Khyberie: The Story of a Pony on the Indian Frontier, London: A & C Black Gordon Grand, The Silver Horn. Sporting Tales of John Weatherford, London: Country Life
1935 K F Barker, Himself, London: Country Life Frediswid Sturges, Dowsha: The Story of a Donkey, London: A & C Black
1936 K F Barker, Champion. The Story of a Bull-Terrier, London: Country Life Anna Sewell, Black Beauty. The Life of a Horse, London: A & C Black
1937 K F Barker, Just Pups, London: Country Life K F Barker, Nothing But Horses, London: A & C Black Alfred Ollivant, Owd Bob: The Grey Dog of Kenmuir, London: William Heinemann
1938 K F Barker, Dog Days, London: William Heinemann K F Barker, Nothing But Dogs, London: A & C Black G Cornwallis-West, Us Dogs, London: Country Life
1939 K F Barker, Rogues’ Gallery, London: William Heinemann K F Barker, The Young Entry: Fox-Hunting, Beagling, and Otter-Hunting for Beginners, London: A & C Black C M D Enriquez, Khyberie in Burma. The Adventures of a Mountain Pony, London: A & C Black
1942 G B Stern, Dogs in an Omnibus [‘The Dark Gentleman’, ‘Toes Unmasked’, ‘The Ugly Dachshund’], London: Cassell & Co
1955 K F Barker, The Mole who was Different, London: George G Harrap & Co K F Barker, The January Tortoise, London: George G Harrap & Co
1957 K F Barker, The Wood by the Water, London: George G Harrap & Co
1958 K F Barker, There are Tigers About, London: George G Harrap & Co
1959 R H Smythe, How Animals Talk, London: Country Life
1961 K F Barker, Me and My Dog: The Pedigree Boxer and the Alley Kitten, London: Country Life