We’re taking some time today to remember a wonderful author and friend. Margaret Barker, author of over 60 titles for Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical Romance, passed away earlier this year. Writers Kate Hardy and Caroline Anderson, and Senior Editor Sheila Hodgson share their memories of Margaret, and Kate has also shared three photographs (Kate is the lady behind the lens in the first two).
I first met Margaret in the early 1990s as my first book hit the shelves, after I’d been asked to do an interview on local radio with Mary Lyons, who had been writing romances for Mills & Boon for some time. It was a hilarious interview, and afterwards Mary invited me to lunch in Colchester with another author, Margaret Barker, who also wrote Medicals. It was a fabulous lunch, and Margaret then invited me to her house for an author ‘do’. What a great introduction to life as a real author! We had a marvellous lunch cooked for us by Margaret’s charming husband John, and it was a great day. I saw Margaret frequently after that, at theirs, or at Mills & Boon functions, and it was always a joy to see her and John who often accompanied her. On one occasion Margaret and I did a library talk somewhere near St Albans. We dragged our husbands along, too, which of course involved lunch as well, which I began to realise seems to be a feature of author get-togethers!
Margaret came to London every year for our annual Author lunch, usually accompanied by John until his untimely death in 2006, and then she continued to come alone, still every bit as vibrant and elegant and funny as ever. Then bit by bit she herself became more frail, until her osteoporosis was so bad she was unable to make the journey alone.
She had countless fractures but brushed them aside and carried on, and it never dimmed her spirit, she never lost her sense of humour, her charm, her wicked twinkle, her elegance or glamour. She’ll be sorely missed, not least by her large and very close family of whom she was always so proud.
Rest in peace, my friend, and give my love to John. I’m glad you’re together again at last.
I was Margaret Barker’s editor for many years, and she was always a lady of style and glamour, the soul of any party, spirited, a little naughty (loved bubbles) but always so wonderfully genuine and charming with it. But it was just part of the wonderful exuberance and joy of life that was essentially Margaret. She approached every turn with positivity and grace. She was never afraid of doing something different, she loved travel, lived in France, and did everything from nursing, teaching, writing and was also a mother of three, her family, including her many grandchildren were at the heart of everything for Margaret.
I remember she used to love to meet me for lunch at the Royal Overseas League, where she would relish chatting about her next storyline, she would jump on every idea we discussed and make it into something wonderful. And I’ll never forget the first time I met her after the death of her husband, she talked about him with such love, and such joy but she also was looking forward to what came next, her next book, her next venture, she particularly touched me that day. And she never allowed any health issue of her own to stop her from doing anything. Margaret always found a way.
She was such a wonderful lady, you couldn’t help but smile and laugh in her presence, and her belief that everything would turn out fine and that there was always more of life to be enjoyed was an inspiration, both to me, and of course it was the essence of her romance writing. I will miss her hugely, and I know that her readers will too.
I first met Margaret Barker in the late 1990s at an East Anglia RNA lunch. She was the first M&B author I’d ever met and she was INCREDIBLY glamorous! Very charming, very funny, and great company. She used to head the RNA chapter back then, and persuaded me to organise a couple of lunches. I do remember her trying to persuade me to take over the RNA chapter – but I had to decline as I’d discovered earlier that week I was expecting my youngest.
She was always a delight to be with at M&B and RNA lunches, full of wonderful tales of her travels in India, and she was always very kind. She always greeted me with a hug (a gentle one in later years when her osteoporosis took hold) – and to be honest the M&B author lunch this year is going to put a lump in my throat because it won’t feel the same without her and Sara Craven.
When I think of diamonds and champagne, I’ll always think of Margaret Barker, with a very big smile.