Alan Gabriel Barnsley (pen name: Gabriel Fielding), was born on March 25, 1916, in Hexham, Northumberland, England. His father was George Barnsley, a clergyman of the Church of England (Barnsley converted to Catholicism in 1952), and his mother was Katherine Fielding, a playwright and purportedly a descendant of the eighteenth-century novelist Henry Fielding. Barnsley received his education at St. Edward's, Oxford (1930-1933); at Trinity College of the University of Dublin (1940), where he earned a B.A.; and at St. George's Hospital, London, where he received a licentiate in 1943. Although trained as a physician, Barnsley regarded his profession as a necessity rather than a preference: 'Medicine, to me, was a sentence I had to fulfill in order to be free to write. ..' [Contemporary Authors]. He did not publish his first novel until age 36. Meanwhile he had served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Second World War (1943-1946) and was made captain. He also served as part-time medical officer at Her Majesty's Prison in Maidstone, Kent. Barnsley maintained a general practice in Maidstone from 1948 until 1966 when he moved with his family to the United States where he had accepted a post as author-in-residence at Washington State University. He advanced rapidly to full professorship in English literature, retiring in 1981 as professor emeritus.
Barnsley was the author of eight novels, three books of poems and numerous short stories contributed to anthologies and periodicals. His published works include: The Frog Prince and Other Poems (1962); Brotherly Love (novel)(1954, 1961); Twenty-eight Poems (1955); In the Time of Greenbloom (novel)(1956 , 1957); Eight Days (novel)(1958); Through Streets Broad and Narrow (novel)(1960); The Birthday King (novel)(1962, 1963). Barnsley's writings appeared in such literary periodicals as Harper's, Listener, and The Critic (Chicago). In 1962, Barnsley was awarded the W.H. Smith Award for his novel, The Birthday King. In 1964, he won the Gold Medal of St. Thomas More Association. Through his writing he aimed to demonstrate his belief that the function of a true writer is first to entertain, then to instruct, and finally to ask wise questions. Of all novelists, he favored James Joyce, Dostoevsky, Tolstoi, and Dickens as writers 'obsessed' with what they have to say. Alan G. Barnsley died November 27, 1986 in Bellevue, Washington. He was married to Edwina Eleanora Cook and had six children, Michael, Jonathan, Simon, Felicity, Gabriel (daughter), and Anna Swan (his ward).