The son and grandson of miners, Barry Hines (1939–2016) was born in the mining village of Hoyland Common, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. He attended Ecclesfield Grammar School, on the edge of nearby Sheffield, where he played football so well that he was offered trials for Manchester United, played in the reserves at Barnsley, and represented England in a School Week XI (effectively a national Grammar School Boys team) in a 3–0 loss to Scotland, an experience which enabled him to see ‘the class system close up’, and ‘to place football into some kind of social perspective’. Despite attending a grammar school, he worked first as an apprentice mining surveyor for the National Coal Board before a miner-neighbour’s admonishment to ‘use his brains’ led him to go to college to study Physical Education. He worked as a PE teacher for several years, first in London and later in South Yorkshire, where he wrote novels in the school library after the children had gone home.
He would go on to become a full-time writer, publishing nine novels and writing screenplays for film and television. Hines was often considered to be part of the generation of celebrated Northern writers including Alan Sillitoe, Stan Barstow, John Braine and Keith Waterhouse, though he was a decade younger than most of them. His debut book, The Blinder (1966), was one of the first novels about football. He followed it with a series of novels reflecting the lives of the proletariat: A Kestrel for a Knave (1968), an immediate bestseller when published in Great Britain in 1968; First Signs (1972); The Gamekeeper (1975); The Price of Coal (1979); Looks and Smiles (1981); Unfinished Business (1983); The Heart of It (1994); and Elvis Over England (1998). By 2002, he had finished the manuscript of a final novel, Springwood Stars, a story of a football team in a mining village during a 1920s miners’ strike. Never published, And Other Stories will publish Springwood Stars in 2024, as well as bringing other Hines’ classics back into print over the coming years.
Four of his books – A Kestrel for a Knave, The Gamekeeper, The Price of Coal and Looks and Smiles – were adapted for the screen by Hines and filmed by Ken Loach. Hines is still best known for A Kestrel for a Knave, which became the film Kes, regarded as one of the great classics of British cinema. Hines also wrote other successful television and radio plays, including the script to the BAFTA award-winning film Threads (1984), a speculative television drama examining the effects of nuclear war on Sheffield, which remains a terrifying and beloved example of its genre.