Edmund Henry Barker (1788-1839), English classical scholar, was born at Hollym in Yorkshire. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a scholar in 1807, but left the university without a degree, being prevented by religious scruples from taking the oath then required. He had previously obtained (in 1809) the Browne medal for Greek and Latin epigrams. After acting as amanuensis to the famous Samuel Parr, the vicar of Hatton in Warwickshire, he married and settled down at Thetford in Norfolk, where he lived for about twenty-five years. He was in the habit of adding the initials O. T. N. (of Thetford, Norfolk) to the title-page of his published works. In later life he became involved in a law-suit in connexion with a will, and thus exhausted his means. In 1837-1838 he was a prisoner for debt in the king's bench and in the Fleet. He died in London on the 21st of March 1839. Barker was a prolific writer on classical and other subjects. In addition to contributing to the Classical Journal, he edited portions of several classical authors for the use of schools.
He was one of the first commentators to write notes in English instead of Latin. In a volume of letters he disputed the claims of Sir Philip Francis to the authorship of the Letters of Junius; his Parriana (1828) is a vast and ill-digested compilation of literary anecdotes and criticisms. He also saw through the press the English edition of Lemprière's Classical Dictionary (revised by Anthon) and of Webster's English Dictionary. It is as a lexicographer, however, that Barker is chiefly known. While at Hatton, he conceived the design of a new edition of Stephanus's Thesaurus Graecae Linguae. The work was undertaken by A. J. Valpy, and, although not expressly stated, it was understood that Barker was the responsible editor. When a few parts had appeared, it was severely criticized in the Quarterly Review (xxii., 1820) by Blomfield; the result was the curtailment of the original plan of the work and the omission of Barker's name in connexion with it. It was completed in twelve volumes (1816-1828). The strictures of the Quarterly were answered by Barker in his Aristarchus Anti-Blomfieldianus, which, although unconvincing, was in turn answered by Bishop Monk. He also published notes on the Etymologicum Gudianum, and collaborated with Professor Dunbar of Edinburgh in a Greek and English Lexicon (1831). The editio princeps (1820) of the treatise attributed to Arcadius, περὶ τόνων, was published by him from a Paris MS. Continental scholars entertained a more favourable opinion of him than those of his own country.
He expressed contempt for the minute verbal criticism of the Porsonian school, in which he was himself deficient.
An account of his life will be found in the Gentleman's Magazine for May 1839; see also Notes and Queries (6th series, xii. p. 443), where a full list of his works is given.