Sad news about Anni Barry

by Chris Bertram on December 3, 2009

Matt Matravers emails and asks me to post for CT readers:

bq. Many of you “posted”: very kind and moving messages about Brian Barry when he died. If you knew Brian in the last many years, then you knew Brian and Anni. Since I don’t have any way of contacting people individually, I am posting this. I hope readers will forgive the impersonal nature of the contact.

bq. I learnt today (Thursday) that Anni died overnight at home. She had been feeling unwell with what she thought was a ‘chest infection’. The doctors diagnosed pneumonia and pressed her to go into hospital yesterday, but she resisted saying that she, in any case, was feeling a bit better. A neighbour found her this morning.

bq. I do not have any further details, but I’ll do my best to inform people when I do. Anni was a lovely person, a force of nature, and something special.

Very sad news indeed. I remember visiting Anni and Brian at their flat near the British Museum. There was a great atmosphere, fine conversation, and lots of opera.

UPDATE: The following announcement will appear in the Guardian:

bq. Anni Barry (Anni Parker) of Bury Place, London died peacefully in her sleep on 3rd December 2009 after a short illness.

bq. Her funeral will take place at 2pm on Monday 21st December in the West Chapel at Golders Green Crematorium.

bq. Flowers welcome.



Salient 12.03.09 at 10:59 pm

This is sad news. My sympathies are with all of you who knew Anni.


Helen Durrant 12.04.09 at 11:51 am

Anni was first a work colleague who then became a very good friend. She gave of her time, her very great personality and boundless affection. I, and others here at LSE’s CEP are in shock – devastated at the news this morning of her death.


Harry 12.04.09 at 2:24 pm

I’m very sorry to hear this, and thanks to Matt for sending it. I liked Anni enormously, and was deeply touched when she called to talk about Brian’s death. The first time I met her was at their flat in New York some ten or so years ago, and I was immediately charmed. A friend, who like me knew Brian but, I think, hadn’t previously met Anni, commented as we were going out to some Chinese place that Brian was so keen on at some absurd hour like 11 pm, that it was remarkable, and rather wonderful, that somehow, in this world of ours, these two people had found each other and been able to make a life together. A lovely person and a sad, sad, day.


Kay 12.04.09 at 11:25 pm

I got to know Brian and Anni at Columbia, where I work as an administrator. We became closer when my family adopted their beloved Tiger, who was unable to make the return with them to London. Anni’s capacity for friendship, devotion, compassion and fun were beyond comparison; her unfailing wit, intelligence and generosity astonishing. I will miss her terribly.


Danielle Celermajer 12.05.09 at 7:04 am

There are some people who make the world a richer, more wonderous place. I know many people will feel today that it is smaller for Anni’s not being here any more. I can hear her voice, her laugh, her wicked humour and irreverence. No title impressed Anni – only wit and kindness and the willingness to be real. Every line Brian wrote was not only transcribed by her, but was the outcome of their always vibrant conversation and ambling around the ideas of life. I loved her and will miss her always.


Anne Kelly 12.06.09 at 10:28 pm

I knew Anni with Brian as he was my husband Paul Kelly’s friend and colleague. She was a loyal supporter of our family and we shared meals together in New York, Rome, Chicago and London. Our children remember lots of laughter and being taken seriously – intelligent and interesting discussion. Anni loved craft and fashion and we went to Origin- the London Craft Fair, together. She also loved cats and really enjoyed hearing about ours. We can’t quite believe she is no longer there, around the corner. We spent Christmas with her when Brian was in hospital and will toast her this year.


Alan Swerdlow 12.08.09 at 8:50 pm

Anni was born in Liverpool on 30 May 1950 – she would have been 60 next summer.

My partner Jeremy and I knew Anni’s parents well. Fred and Edna Hesketh, were a delightful modest couple who were so proud of all she achieved. Anni took after both in different ways. Edna was a lovely elegant person full of fun and with a sense of loyalty which she passed on to her daughter. Fred was a quiet and dignified man, a thorough worker, whose ethics and sense of duty Anni inherited.

She and I met in 1972. She was editing the staff magazine for the department store that was to become a branch of John Lewis. We were introduced by a curate at Liverpool parish church. The church saw the staff of city centre stores as their parishioners. We got on immediately and shared a similar absurd sense of humour and an interest in so many things – theatre and food always being main topics of conversation.

Around this time I was establishing a gay telephone befriending service for Merseyside. We started to receive calls from lesbians wanting to speak to another woman. I did not then know any gay women and Anni offered to provide a female voice on duty every Thursday – no one could be less likely in such a role – but she never failed to offer reassurance and wise counsel, and to be totally unshockable.

We continued to see a great deal of Anni over the years of her first two marriages, a move from Liverpool to Manchester, and later to London and the third and wonderful marriage to her beloved Brian. She thrived and enjoyed the company of Brian’s colleagues and typed up and edited his books with her considerable natural skill with words.

When Brian was a Professor at Columbia in New York, I spent several days with them – visits to the Metropolitan Museum and some delicious meals in and out.

Brian passed away earlier this year after the devastating illness through which Anni cared for him with such devotion and an ever deepening love. She missed his companionship so much.

The last time we met was on 25 November at the National Theatre between performances of Alan Bennett’s new play. In our phone call next day Anni gave a really thoughtful analysis of the play.

I already miss our regular phone calls and news of plays and films – and the regular recipes we discussed and exchanged.

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