Growing up in the shadow of a steel works in a former pit village, I didn’t meet many writers. I didn’t meet any. For the longest time I thought all writers were dead. This didn’t exactly entice me into writing.  But I got lucky--I had some inspiring teachers and steadfast friends. And, though my parents got lots wrong, they always encouraged me to ‘stick in at school’. So, a reader became a writer.

Thank you to all the good teachers, brave editors and generous readers for your support.

You Will Be Safe Here

Maggie & Me

Speak My Language





Praise for Damian Barr

Maggie & Me is a work of stealthy genius
— Maggie O’Farrell
Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose
— The Sunday Times
Sweeping yet intimate, heart-breaking yet often very funny…This book confirms Barr as one of our most brilliant and big-hearted writers
— The Observer


This is one of my first memories of the power of words:

My Mum had an old Golden Virginia Tobacco tin filled with words written in block capitals on tiny squares of paper. I’d pick a word out and she’d teach me how to say it and tell me what it meant before showing me how to write it down. All the words smelled of sweet tobacco. I could read and write by the time I went to school. Not so many years later my mother suffered a brain hemorrhage and nearly died. She had to learn to walk and talk again and read and write and I got out that old tin and showed her the words she showed me. They smelled just as sweet.

Books are at the heart of my life and I am lucky enough to make my living telling stories - some true, some truer still, a few my own, mostly those of others at my Literary Salon. I tell stories to help people better understand themselves and others, to ask better questions not provide easy answers.

Maggie & Me is my memoir of growing up and coming out in Thatcher's Britain (Scotland to be exact, Motherwell to be precise, Newarthill for nit-pickers). A Radio 4 Book of the Week, the Sunday Times named it Memoir of the Year and it won various lovely awards. It's currently in development for telly! My very first book made the quarter-life crisis a household term but I wrote it so long ago I sometimes forget – it’s called Get It Together. Bloomsbury pre-empted my debut novel You Will Be Safe Here on one chapter and it's out in April 2019. As titles go, it's fairly misleading. Inspired by real events, it’s a novel of connected parts which uncovers a hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness. It’s been featured in Books You’ll Be Reading in 2019 lists in The Guardian, The Observer and the Financial Times.