James Henry Stanley Barlow was born on 1 December 1921 in Birmingham, England. During his childhood Barlow lived in various locations in the West Midlands, his father having to move fairly frequently for his job with a bank. The family eventually settled in Wales due to his father’s ill health, a problem dating back to his military service in WW1. After his father died, in 1936, the Barlow family returned to Birmingham. Upon leaving school, James attended a commercial college before joining the Birmingham Corporation Water Department. At the outbreak of WW2 he enlisted with the RAF, serving as a gunner, then gunnery instructor before being invalided out with tuberculosis. He began writing during his long convalescence, initially contributing articles to aeronautical magazines. He later began to write articles and stories for other magazines, including Punch. After he had recovered his health, James returned to the Birmingham Corporation as a water rates inspector and began to write in earnest.His first novel, The Protagonists, drawing on his experiences in Wales and his time recovering from TB in a sanatorium, was published in 1956. Although receiving some critical acclaim with this and his next two books, he did not achieve real success until 1960, with the publication of The Patriots, a story of war veterans struggling to adjust to civilian life and drifting into a life of crime. In 1969 Barlow moved with his family to Tasmania in Australia but returned a few years later and settled in Ireland. He died suddenly on 30 January 1973 in Cork.
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