Angela Carter

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Angela Carter
Angela Carter.jpg
BornAngela Olive Stalker
(1940-05-07)7 May 1940
Eastbourne, England
Died16 February 1992(1992-02-16) (aged 51)
London, England
OccupationNovelist, short story writer, poet, journalist
Alma materUniversity of Bristol
Paul Carter
(m. 1960; div. 1972)

Mark Pearce
(m. 1977)

Angela Olive Pearce (formerly Carter, née Stalker; 7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992), who published under the name Angela Carter, was an English novelist, short story writer, poet, and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, and picaresque works. She is best known for her book The Bloody Chamber, which was published in 1979. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth in their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".[1] In 2012, Nights at the Circus was selected as the best ever winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.[2]


Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, to Sophia Olive (née Farthing; 1905–1969), a cashier at Selfridge's, and journalist Hugh Alexander Stalker (1896–1988),[3] Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother.[4] After attending Streatham and Clapham High School, in south London, she began work as a journalist on The Croydon Advertiser,[5] following in her father's footsteps. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.[6][7]

She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter,[5] divorcing in 1972. In 1969, she used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, where she claims in Nothing Sacred (1982) that she "learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised".[8] She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (1972).

She then explored the United States, Asia and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977, Carter met Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son and whom she married shortly before her death.[9] In 1979, both The Bloody Chamber, and her feminist essay, The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography,[10] appeared. In the essay, according to the writer Marina Warner, Carter "deconstructs the arguments that underlie The Bloody Chamber. It's about desire and its destruction, the self-immolation of women, how women collude and connive with their condition of enslavement. She was much more independent-minded than the traditional feminist of her time."[11]

As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in Shaking a Leg.[12] She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. Two of her fictions have been adapted for film: The Company of Wolves (1984) and The Magic Toyshop (1967). She was actively involved in both adaptations;[13] her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the Parker–Hulme murder case, which also inspired Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures), and other works. These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts' book Anagrams of Desire (2003). Her novel Nights at the Circus won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. Her last novel, Wise Children, is a surreal wild ride through British theatre and music hall traditions.

Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer.[14][15] At the time of her death, she had started work on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens; only a synopsis survives.[16]



Short fiction collections[edit]

Poetry collections[edit]

  • Five Quiet Shouters (1966)
  • Unicorn (1966)
  • Unicorn: The Poetry of Angela Carter (2015)

Dramatic works[edit]

Children's books[edit]


She wrote two entries in "A Hundred Things Japanese" published in 1975 by the Japan Culture Institute. ISBN 0-87040-364-8 It says "She has lived in Japan both from 1969 to 1971 and also during 1974" (p. 202).

As editor[edit]

  • Wayward Girls and Wicked Women: An Anthology of Subversive Stories (1986)
  • The Virago Book of Fairy Tales (1990) a.k.a. The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book
  • The Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales (1992) a.k.a. Strange Things Still Sometimes Happen: Fairy Tales From Around the World (1993)
  • Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales (2005) (collects the two Virago Books above)

As translator[edit]

Film adaptations[edit]

Radio plays[edit]

  • Vampirella (1976) written by Carter and directed by Glyn Dearman for BBC. Formed the basis for the short story "The Lady of the House of Love".
  • Come Unto These Yellow Sands (1979)
  • The Company of Wolves (1980) adapted by Carter from her short story of the same name, and directed by Glyn Dearman for BBC
  • Puss-in-Boots (1982) adapted by Carter from her short story and directed by Glyn Dearman for BBC
  • A Self-Made Man (1984)


Works on Angela Carter[edit]


English Heritage unveiled a blue plaque at Carter's final home at 107, The Chase in Clapham, South London in September 2019. She wrote many of her books in the sixteen years she lived at the address, as well as tutoring the young Kazuo Ishiguro.[17]
In 2008, the British Library acquired the Angela Carter Papers, a large collection of 224 files and volumes containing manuscripts, correspondence, personal diaries, photographs and audio cassettes.[18]


  1. ^ The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. 5 January 2008. The Times. Retrieved on 27 July 2018.
  2. ^ Flood, Alison (6 December 2012). "Angela Carter named best ever winner of James Tait Black award". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  3. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/50941. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Archived 7 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Angela Carter". 17 February 1992. Archived from the original on 22 February 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2018 – via
  6. ^ "Angela Carter - Biography". The Guardian. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Angela Carter's Feminism". 6 March 2017.
  8. ^ Hill, Rosemary (22 October 2016). "The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography by Edmund Gordon – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  9. ^ Gordon, Edmund (1 October 2016). "Angela Carter: Far from the fairytale". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  10. ^ Dugdale, John (16 February 2017). "Angela's influence: what we owe to Carter". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Marina Warner, speaking on Radio Three's the Verb, February 2012
  12. ^ "Book of a Lifetime: Shaking a Leg, By Angela Carter". The Independent. 10 February 2012. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  13. ^ Jordison, Sam (24 February 2017). "Angela Carter webchat – your questions answered by biographer Edmund Gordon". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  14. ^ Waters, Sarah (3 October 2009). "My hero: Angela Carter". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  15. ^ Michael Dirda, "The Unconventional Life of Angela Carter - prolific author, reluctant feminist," The Washington Post, 8 March 2017.
  16. ^ Clapp, Susannah (29 January 2006). "The greatest swinger in town". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  17. ^ Flood, Alison (11 September 2019). "Angela Carter's 'carnival' London home receives blue plaque". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  18. ^ Angela Carter Papers Catalogue the British Library. Retrieved 6 May 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ Online version is titled "Angela Carter's feminist mythology".