BARBARA Alicia Large was born in 1932 and grew up in Vancouver, where her library-loving grandfather imbued her life-long passion for creative writing. By the age of 16, she had started college, majoring in English literature.

After postgraduate study in London during the early 1950s, Barbara met John Large on the boat home. In 1969, they returned to England with their young family, when he became Professor of Applied Acoustics at Southampton University. Their house at Shawford remained Barbara’s home until her death in March.

Barbara taught at such varied locations as St Swithun’s School, Southampton University and Winchester Prison. She set up education programmes for inmates as chief education officer at Haslar Detention Centre in the 1990s. This culminated in a secondment to the Home Office, reviewing prisoners’ reading standards, for which she was awarded an MBE in 1998.

Barbara’s great achievement was her influence on the creative writing world. She hosted the first Winchester Writers’ Conference in 1980, which blossomed as word spread of its inspirational director’s kindness and generosity of spirit. However inexperienced or unconfident a writer, by the end of a frenetic weekend (or more) of learning and socialising, everyone left refuelled by Barbara’s belief in their potential as authors.

Moving to the University of Winchester in the early 2000s, Barbara almost single-handedly developed the Conference to include national and international delegates. Each year the keynote speech was given by an eminent friend, such was her prestige: Douglas Adams, PD James, Terry Pratchett, Julian Fellowes, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Carol Ann Duffy headlined over 33 years. Agents, publishers and authors buzzed round, leading workshops and mentoring individuals. Dozens of new authors successfully launched careers.

Barbara retired as an Honorary Fellow of the University at the age of 81, and then continued to mentor and teach courses. She started the popular Hampshire Writers’ Society, which continues to grow. The first Memorial Award in her memory has just been awarded to a protegee, wheelchair-bound author, Anthony Ridgeway.

In the autumn of 2017, Barbara was diagnosed with myeloma, but published an anecdotal cookbook, Scrumptious Recipes for a Pampered Patient, with proceeds to the Nick Jonas Ward of the RHCH.

At the 39th Winchester Writers’ Festival in June, around 20 speakers recounted Barbara’s dedication, the University chapel filled with laughter and love. Last Thursday, a memorial service was attended by her son John, grand-daughter Dina, past mayor of Winchester, Dominic Hiscock, neighbours, friends, colleagues and fellow writers.

Barbara is buried in the churchyard with her son and husband (who pre-deceased her in 1993 and 1998). She leaves a son and five grandchildren.