Barry Hines

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Melvin Barry Hines, FRSL (30 June 1939 – 18 March 2016) was an English author who wrote several popular novels and television scripts.[1] He is best known for the novel A Kestrel for a Knave (1968), which he helped adapt for Ken Loach's film Kes (1969).

Barry Hines
Melvin Barry Hines

(1939-06-30)30 June 1939
Hoyland, England
Died18 March 2016(2016-03-18) (aged 76)
Hoyland, England
EducationEcclesfield Grammar School
Years active1966–2016

Early life[edit]

Hines was born in the mining village of Hoyland Common near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. He attended Ecclesfield Grammar School and played football for the England Grammar Schools team.[2] After leaving school with five O levels he took a job with the National Coal Board as an apprentice mining surveyor at Rockingham Colliery.[3] A neighbour he chanced to meet at the coal face disapproved of his failure to meet his potential; Hines later said that was when he decided to return to school to take his examinations.[3][4] He achieved four A levels and studied for a teaching qualification at Loughborough College.[2][4] He worked as a Physical Education teacher for several years, initially for two years in a London comprehensive school and subsequently at Longcar Central School in Barnsley, where he wrote novels in the school library after the children had gone home.[2][3] He later became a full-time writer.[3]


His first play, Billy's Last Stand, appeared on the BBC Radio Third Programme in 1965, with Arthur Lowe and Ronald Baddiley.[5][6] Hines is best known for his novel A Kestrel for a Knave (1968); he co-wrote the script for the film version Kes (1969), directed by Ken Loach. It tells the story of a troubled schoolboy living in a mining village near Barnsley, who finds comfort in tending a kestrel that he named 'Kes'. Hines also wrote the script for the BAFTA award-winning TV film Threads (1984), a speculative television drama examining the effects of nuclear war on Sheffield.

He was known for writing scripts in the Yorkshire dialect. Ken Loach wrote, "He loved language and his ear for the dialect and its comedy was pitch perfect."[7]


Loach's film Looks and Smiles (1981), based on a novel by Hines and adapted for the screen by the author, won the Best Contemporary Screenplay prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Kes won a number of awards, including a Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best British Screenplay and a BAFTA nomination for Best Screenplay.[8] Threads (1984) won a special award at the 1985 Monte-Carlo Television Festival, the Broadcasting Press Guild Award in 1985 for Best Single Drama, and was nominated for seven different awards in the 1985 BAFTA Awards, winning the Best Single Drama award.[2][9] Hines was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Letters) at the University of Sheffield on 14 January 2010.[10] Hines died on 18 March 2016 at the age of 76.[11]



Short story collections[edit]

  • This Artistic Life (2009)[13]

Radio, film and television[edit]


  1. ^ "Barry Hines: Biography". Debrett's. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d "Author Biography: Barry Hines". Pomona Books. Hebden Bridge. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Benson, Richard (4 December 2005). "When we were heroes". The Observer. London. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Barry Hines". BBC. Sheffield and South Yorkshire. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  5. ^ Wyper, Alistair (October 2015). "Billy's Last Stand, by Barry Hines". Sutton Elms Diversity website. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  6. ^ 'Some Corruptions of Power.' The Times (London, England), Friday, Aug 13, 1965; pg. 11; Issue 56399
  7. ^ Loach, Ken (23 March 2016). "Ken Loach on Barry Hines: 'His ear for the dialect and its comedy was pitch perfect'". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  8. ^ Awards for Kes (1969). Retrieved June 2008.
  9. ^ "Awards database". BAFTA. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Heptathlete Jessica Ennis receives honorary degree". BBC News. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Barry Hines obituary: author of A Kestrel for a Knave". The Guardian. 20 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Tim Woods (2013). Who's Who of Twentieth Century Novelists. pp. 186–187. ISBN 1134709919.
  13. ^ "This Artistic Life". Pomona Books. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "Barry Hines". The Agency. Retrieved 21 March 2016.

External links[edit]