PEMBROKESHIRE author Judith Barrow knew she wanted to be a writer from childhood, but writing was pronounced ‘a waste of time’ by her father, so she did it in secret.
‘I wasn’t allowed to stay on to the sixth form. I left school at sixteen to go into the Civil Service’ said Judith, ‘but I never lost sight of my goal. Dreams alone won’t achieve an ambition, they need a whole lot of action too.’
It wasn’t until she was nearly forty that she took an A Level in English Literature, and followed it up with script writing/drama course at Swansea University. Her success led her to enrol on a BA degree in Literature with the Open University – a course which took longer than expected to complete due to a battle with cancer halfway through her studies.
Nothing daunted Judith used the years to hone her craft and saw success with many short stories and poems published and a play performed at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. Eventually, aged 55, she gained an MA in Creative Writing at Trinity College in Carmarthen, as it was then known, and became a tutor for adult writing classes with Pembrokeshire County Council as part of the Lifelong Learning Scheme.
Judith’s first book, A Pattern of Shadows was published in 2010. This was the start of a four book series depicting the Howarth family and is set in her native Lancashire, spanning the years from 1900-1969. ‘I write about people and their lives’ says Judith ‘family sagas really. My stories delve into family situations, the love that holds people together but also the jealousies and resentments which can tear them apart.’
Lockdown has had its advantages for Judith as being ’stuck at home’ has allowed her time and opportunity to write in a focused way. Two further novels have been published over the last year, The Memory, a contemporary novel and her latest release, The Heart Stone, another historical saga set between 1914 and 1921. ‘The First World War both fascinates and repulses me,’ said Judith, ‘I love writing about this era because it reminds me of my grandfather, who volunteered to join the local Oldham Pals Battalion with two of his friends, even though they were all underage.’
‘If life has taught me anything’ said Judith, ‘It’s never too late to learn and never give up on your dreams.’
All Judith’s books are published by, and available from, Honno Press in Aberystwyth, or all good bookshops.