Barry Jackson was born on 6 September 1879. His father, George Jackson was a wealthy business man and had always enjoyed the theatre and so named his son after an actor - Barry Sullivan. From an early age, the Jackson family were exposed to the theatre and to the arts. They regularly attended the theatre, opera and the ballet. Sir Barry saw his first Shakespeare production, The Taming of the Shrew, performed by the Frank Benson Company when he was ten years old.
In his teens, Sir Barry travelled in Europe, visiting Greece and Italy and lived in Geneva for eighteen months where he studied French and learnt to paint. He desired to become an artist, but his father persuaded him to take a job in the architect's office of Frank Osborn in Birmingham. He began working there in 1897.
The office environment, however, did not suit his temperament or creativity. He had already turned his attention to writing and performing plays with a group of his friends.