Damian Barr

• Host, The Big Scottish Book Club BBC Scotland & iplayer 

• Damian Barr’s Literary Salon

• Presenter, Live from Cheltenham Literary Festival Sky Arts

• Award-winning Writer

• Literary Ambassador, The Savoy

Damian Barr is an award-winning writer, broadcaster, journalist and host of his own infamous Literary Salon. ‘One of the most well-connected men in publishing’ says the Guardian. 

From Autumn 2019, he will be hosting a new Salon-inspired show called The Big Scottish Book Club on BBC Scotland and it will go direct to iPlayer so everyone can watch. Each week I meet a trio of acclaimed writers. Each episode will be filmed as live and performed in front of an audience - you could be there! The Big Scottish Book Club shines a spotlight on Scottish Writers and celebrates books and writers from all around the world.  Authors include Graham Norton and Ian Rankin. 

Damian recently hosted Sky Arts from the 7th - 13th October 2019 at 7pm-10pm presenting Sky Arts Live at Cheltenham Literature Festival alongside Andi Oliver and Miquita Oliver. As well as the live coverage he hosted the Book Banquet, in which prominent authors discuss a range of books and the Book Doctor, where he diagnosed the reading habits of a variety of festival guests. 

In 2016 he hosted his first half-hour doc on BBC One revealing The Writers of Rye and Damian Barr’s Literary Salon Podcast is on iTunes and British Airways and across the pond in NYC on popular platform Lit Hub.  Damian frequently guests on Radio 4 and occasionally hosts Front Row - Dolly Parton, Javier Marías and Brad Pitt are among his favourite interviewees.   

Damian Barr’s Literary Salon recently celebrated its tenth birthday at a special with Tracey Thorn, Adam Kay and Rose McGowan.  It all started at Shoreditch House in 2008 but now resides at the supremely storied Savoy.  The events are always intimate, revealing and headline-making. Popping up all over the country and around the world partnering with brilliant brands like Corney & Barrow, Hendricks Gin and the National Trust and great venues like the Savoy, London, Ace in New York or the Balmoral in Edinburgh. Working closely with British Airways, the #litsalon podcast plays in-flight. The salon has been covered in The Times, Telegraph, Sunday Times, Guardian, Evening Standard, New York Times, Red, Grazia, Elle and Vanity Fair. The success is due to the passionate support of all the Salonistas – our highly engaged, influential and frankly fabulous community. 

Damian is proud to be appointed the first ever Literary Ambassador at one of the world’s most storied hotels The savoy, London.  Working with the Savoy team, he has launched a full literary programme bringing authors and guests together to celebrate books. There are three key strands: Salons, reviving the famous Writer-in-Residence programme and introducing Book Butlers to oversee a seasonal library. 

‘Maggie & Me’, published by Bloomsbury, was BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and the Sunday Times made it their Memoir of the Year. It won the Paddy Power Satire of the Year Award 2014 and Stonewall named Damian their Writer of the Year. Described as ‘genius’ by Maggie O’Farrell and ‘amazing’ by Diana Athill, it was featured in the Books of the Year in the Observer, Times, The Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, Guardian, Mail, Metro and Evening Standard. “There isn’t a trace of bitterness in the beautiful book. Only the radiant eloquence of a man whose courage and humanity shine from its pages,” said Alan Johnson in New Statesman Books of the Year. 

Damian has since taught several six-month long UEA-Guardian Memoir Master classes and undertakes private mentoring and editing commissions. Earlier this year he published his first novel to great acclaim You Will Be Safe Here.  

Permanently in search of the perfect Martini, Damian is a well-respected drinks writer and his Barfly series was regularly featured in The Sunday Times. He covers politics and culture in his monthly Big Issue column and has been a columnist for Attitude. Shortlisted for a British Press Award, he’s written regularly for the Times since graduating. For them he has tracked down and interviewed Cheetah the Chimpanzee, cooked a 32-bird roast with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and explored post-Katrina New Orleans. He has also written for the Independent, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph and Evening Standard as well as GQ, Harpers, Glamour, Red, Country Life and Psychologies. 

His first book, based on a Times column about being a twentysomething, made the quarterlife crisis into a household term. Featured on Richard & Judy, his book helped define a generation and launch a debate that’s still raging. Julie Burchill describes him as ‘the new ringmaster for the Jerry Springer Generation’. 

Damian has co-written two afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4. He made headlines from the New York Times to the Times of India as the world’s first ever reader-in-residence. For a few weeks every year, he dons his pyjamas and moves into a hotel where he reads stories aloud to guests. 

Faculty at the School of Life and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Damian sits on the boards of: Brighton Fringe, Gladstone’s Library and the Ministry of Stories (Brighton). He is a Patron of the child protection charity Children 1st and a supporter of Stonewall and the Terrence Higgins Trust. 

He lives with his husband by the sea in Brighton where they keep chickens. 


Damian is represented for his literary work by Clare Conville at Conville & Walsh.



Honours & Awards

Honoured as an Associate Artist alongside Fay Weldon and Mark Ravenhill New Writing South June 2015


Travel Media Awards November 2015

Shortlisted for Writer of the Decade by Stonewall

Stonewall November 2015

Named as one of the 100 most influential Scots in the List magazine’s ‘Hot 100’

The List – Scotland’s top culture and arts magazine December 2014

The Rainbow List

The Independent on Sunday November 2014

Damian joins Evan Davis, Sue Perkins, Tom Daly, Paris Lee, Patrick Strudwick and many others on this list of the 101 LGBT people who ‘make a real difference’. This is a pioneering list and attracts thousands of deserving nominations. Recognised for his Salon, my memoir and his work on Front Row. A pioneering initiative from The Independent on Sunday.

The Political Humour and Satire Book of the Year

The Paddy Power Political Book Awards in Association with Politicos.co.uk

March 2014 Damian won!

This is what they say: “The Political Humour/Satire Book of the Year Award will be presented to the author of most witty and/or intelligently satirical political book of the year. The book should be able to raise a smile whilst also conveying a serious and thought-provoking political message. It will be original, entertaining and above all it will make the judges and the reader laugh.

Memoir of the Year

The Sunday Times December 2013

Appearing alongside memoirs from Alan Johnson, Malala and Julian Barnes, Maggie & Me was named as the Sunday Times Memoir of the Year: “The writing is beautiful, the evocation of his childhood tender and affectionate, the summoning up of a particular time and place pin-sharp. A poignant and often humour memoir, full of energy and life.”

Writer of the Year

Stonewall November 2013