"Barker began his career in the arts as a playwright and director for a ""fringe"" theater company he formed in London, staging works with titles like ""Frankenstein in Love"" and ""The History of the Devil"". While starving for his art, he began writing horror short stories in his spare time, not expecting them to be marketable. The first publisher who read them, however, asked for more, and in 1984 they were published, in three volumes, as ""The Books of Blood"". Propelled by a Stephen King jacket quotation which read ""I have seen the future of horror and its name is Clive Barker"", the books sold extremely well and launched a career in which Barker has written, directed and/or executive produced several distinctive horror films that are both gruesome and literate.
Barker's goal has been to produce horror films that take themselves seriously, as opposed to the campy, tongue-in-cheek fare that has dominated the genre in recent years. He made his directorial debut with Hellraiser (1987), adapted by Barker from his novella ""The Hellbound Heart"". Described by the London periodical ""Time Out"" as ""a serious, intelligent and disturbing horror film"", this exceptional project was produced on a shoestring budget of $1.5 million and grossed more than $30 million. ""Hellraiser"" introduced the sharp-featured ""prince of pain"" character who has been given the affectionate nickname ""Pinhead"" by an enthusiastic and bloodthirsty audience. Pinhead also appeared in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), both of which were executive-produced by Barker but directed by others. He has no control over the extensive marketing of his creation - whom he describes as ""the Noel Coward of the lower depths"" - because he sold those rights for $1 million in the deal that allowed him to direct the first installment.
Barker's second outing as a writer-director was Nightbreed (1990), adapted from his novel ""Cabal"", in which fellow horror auteur David Cronenberg had a role as a sinister psychiatrist.
Though Barker has been hailed in some quarters as a major innovator and a rare prose stylist, others claim that his greatest talent is as a clever recycler of what has worked well in the past - someone who spices up the old formulae with liberal helpings of unconventional sexuality and surreal, over-the-top, violence. In recent years Barker has been concentrating on writing fantasy fiction and in 1992 he published his first children's book, ""The Thief of Always"", which features 27 of his own illustrations."