Angela Carter

Angela Olive Carter-Pearce (née Stalker; 7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992), who published under the pen name Angela Carter, was an English novelist, short story writer 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]

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

Mark Pearce (m. 1977)


Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, to Sophia Olive (née Farthing; 1905–1969) and Hugh Alexander Stalker (1896–1988), Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled against anorexia.[3] After attending Streatham and Clapham High School, in south London, she began work as a journalist on The Croydon Advertiser,[4] following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.[5]. Up until her teenage years she was an obedient and 'chubby' child until she went on diet, lost weight and changed her style of dress. This was perhaps why she became anorexic. She became a rude child who challenged authorities and was abusive to her mother; at this point she had few friends. She switched between extreme shyness and depression. This change did not however affect her performance in school. She decided against applying to Oxford University and chose marriage instead which she felt would allow her to escape her parents.[6]

She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter,[4] 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".[7] 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.[8] In 1979, both The Bloody Chamber, and her feminist essay, The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography,[9] 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."[10]

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.[11] 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 (1987). She was actively involved in both adaptations;[12] 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, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as 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.

At the time of her death, Carter 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.[13]

Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer.[14][15]



Short fiction collections

Poetry collections

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

Dramatic works

Children's books

  • The Donkey Prince (1970, illustrated by Eros Keith)
  • Miss Z, the Dark Young Lady (1970, illustrated by Eros Keith)
  • Comic and Curious Cats (1979, illustrated by Martin Leman)
  • Moonshadow (1982) illustrated by Justin Todd
  • Sea-Cat and Dragon King (2000, illustrated by Eva Tatcheva)


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

  • 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

Film adaptations

Radio plays

  • 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


  1. ^ The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. 5 January 2008. The Times. Retrieved on 2018-07-27.
  2. ^ Alison Flood (6 December 2012). "Angela Carter named best ever winner of James Tait Black award". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  3. ^ Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Angela Carter". 17 February 1992. Retrieved 18 May 2018 – via
  5. ^ "Angela Carter - Biography". The Guardian. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Angela Carter's Feminism".
  7. ^ Hill, Rosemary (2016-10-22). "The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography by Edmund Gordon – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  8. ^
  9. ^ John Dugdale (16 Feb 2017). "Angela's influence: what we owe to Carter".
  10. ^ Marina Warner, speaking on Radio Three's the Verb, February 2012
  11. ^ "Book Of A Lifetime: Shaking a Leg, By Angela Carter". The Independent. 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Clapp, Susannah (29 January 2006). "The greatest swinger in town". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  14. ^ Sarah Waters (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," Washington Post, March 8, 2017.

Further reading

External links

  1. ^ Online version is titled "Angela Carter's feminist mythology".
American Ghosts and Old World Wonders

American Ghosts and Old World Wonders is a posthumously published anthology of short fiction by Angela Carter. It was first published in the United Kingdom in 1993 by Chatto & Windus Ltd. and contains a collection of nine stories, one half of which deal with American folklore and the other with older myths and fairytales. It is introduced by Susannah Clapp.

The book is divided into two parts, the first (concerned with America) consists of "Lizzie's Tiger", "John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore", "Gun for the Devil" and "The Merchant of Shadows".Part two (concerned with Europe: the "Old World") contains "The Ghost Ships", "In Pantoland", "Ashputtle or The Mother's Ghost", "Alice in Prague or The Curious Room" and "Impressions: The Wrightsman Magdalene".

The anthology's contents are also reprinted in the volume Burning Your Boats, which features all of Carter's short fiction.

Black Venus (short story collection)

Black Venus (also published as Saints and Strangers) is a collection of short fiction by Angela Carter. It was first published in the United Kingdom in 1985 by Chatto & Windus Ltd. and contains eight stories, the majority of which are concerned with re-imagining the lives of certain figures in history, with a particular emphasis on some well known through literature.

The "Black Venus" of the title story is Jeanne Duval, the lover of poet Charles Baudelaire. The anthology's contents are also reprinted in the volume Burning Your Boats, which features all of Carter's short fiction.

Burning Your Boats

Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories (1995) is a posthumously-published collection of Angela Carter's short stories. It includes stories previously collected in her other short story collections: Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces (1974), The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1979), Black Venus (aka Saints and Strangers) (1985) and American Ghosts and Old World Wonders (1993) as well as six previously un-collected stories. The book also includes an introduction by author Salman Rushdie.

The collection consists of:

Early Work, 1962-6"The Man Who Loved a Double Bass", "A Very, Very Great Lady and Her Son at Home" and "A Victorian Fable (with Glossary)".Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces (1974)"A Souvenir of Japan", "The Executioner's Beautiful Daughter", "The Loves of Lady Purple", "The Smile of Winter", "Penetrating to the Heart of the Forest", "Flesh and the Mirror", "Master", "Reflections" and "Elegy for a Freelance".The Bloody Chamber (1979)"The Bloody Chamber", "The Courtship of Mr Lyon", "The Tiger's Bride", "Puss-in-Boots", "The Erl-King", "The Snow Child", "The Lady of the House of Love", "The Werewolf, "The Company of Wolves" and "Wolf-Alice".Black Venus (aka "Saints and Strangers") (1985)"Black Venus", "The Kiss", "Our Lady of the Massacre", "The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe", "Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Peter and the Wolf", "The Kitchen Child" and "The Fall River Axe Murders".American Ghosts and Old World Wonders (1993)"Lizzie's Tiger", "John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore", "Gun for the Devil", "The Merchant of Shadows", "The Ghost Ships", "In Pantoland", "Ashputtle or The Mother's Ghost", "Alice in Prague or The Curious Room" and "Impressions: The Wrightsman Magdalene".Uncollected Stories, 1970-81"The Scarlet House", "The Snow Pavilion" and "The Quilt Maker".

Feminist revisionist mythology

Feminist revisionist mythology is feminist literature informed by feminist literary criticism, or by the politics of feminism more broadly and that engages with mythology, fairy tales, religion, or other areas.

Heroes and Villains (novel)

Heroes and Villains is a 1969 post-apocalyptic novel by Angela Carter.

Love (Carter novel)

Love is a 1971 novel by Angela Carter. Her fifth novel, it follows the destructive love triangle between a psychologically unstable girl, her charming husband, and her volatile brother-in-law. Effectively exploring themes of infidelity, self-loathing, suicide, and emotional disconnection, the novel depicts three characters so alienated from society and reality, that they depend solely on each other. This unhealthy fixation slowly eats away at their individual relationships and themselves, until eventually culminating in despair and tragedy.Carter's novels Shadow Dance (1966), Several Perceptions (1968) and Love are sometimes referred to as the "Bristol Trilogy".

Picador (imprint)

Picador is an imprint of Pan Macmillan in the United Kingdom and Australia and of Macmillan Publishing in the United States. Both companies are owned by Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.

Picador was launched in the UK in 1972 with the aim of publishing outstanding international writing in paperback. In 1990, Picador started publishing its own hardcovers.

In the summer of 2018, the US branch of Picador announced that starting in April 2019 it would no longer publish original titles and would focus exclusively on reprinting as trade paperbacks literary works originated by editors elsewhere at Macmillan.Picador authors have included Jonathan Franzen, Michael Chabon, Marilynne Robinson, Angela Carter, Thomas Pynchon, Raj Patel, Jon Ronson, Alan Hollinghurst, Graham Swift, John Banville, Patrick McCabe, Tim Winton, Mick Jackson, Colm Toibin, Trezza Azzopardi, Edward St Aubyn, Emma Donoghue, Jim Crace, Sunjeev Sahota, Hanya Yanagihara, Pankaj Mishra, Bret Easton Ellis and Sir Salman Rushdie.

Several Perceptions

Several Perceptions is a 1968 novel by the author Angela Carter. Her novels Shadow Dance (1966), Several Perceptions and Love (1971) are sometimes referred to as the "Bristol Trilogy". The title is from David Hume, 'The mind is a kind of theatre, where several perceptions make their appearance...'

Shadow Dance (novel)

Shadow Dance was Angela Carter's first novel, published in England by Heinemann in 1966. It was published under the name Honeybuzzard in the United States. Upon publication it was acclaimed by Anthony Burgess, who wrote that he "read this book with admiration, horror and other relevant emotions... Angela Carter has remarkable descriptive gifts, a powerful imagination, and... a capacity for looking at the mess of contemporary life without flinching."

Carter's novels Shadow Dance, Several Perceptions (1968) and Love (1971) are sometimes referred to as the "Bristol Trilogy".

The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber (or The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories) is a collection of short fiction by English writer Angela Carter. It was first published in the United Kingdom in 1979 by Gollancz and won the Cheltenham Festival Literary Prize. The stories share a theme of being closely based upon fairytales or folk tales. However, Carter has stated:

My intention was not to do 'versions' or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, 'adult' fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories.

The anthology contains ten stories: "The Bloody Chamber", "The Courtship of Mr Lyon", "The Tiger's Bride", "Puss-in-Boots", "The Erl-King", "The Snow Child", "The Lady of the House of Love", "The Werewolf", "The Company of Wolves" and "Wolf-Alice".

The tales vary greatly in length, with the novelette "The Bloody Chamber" being "more than twice the length of any of the other stories, and more than thirty times the length of the shortest [the vignette "The Snow Child"]."The anthology's contents are also reprinted in Carter's Burning Your Boats.

The Bridegroom

The Bridegroom is a short piece of fiction by Angela Carter. It does not appear in the volume of Carter's collected short fictions Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories. It can be found in the anthology Lands of Never (ed. Maxim Jakubowski, Allen & Unwin 1983). and the periodical "Bananas"

The Company of Wolves

The Company of Wolves is a 1984 British Gothic fantasy-horror film directed by Neil Jordan and starring Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Stephen Rea and David Warner. It was written by Angela Carter and Jordan.

The film is based on the werewolf story of the same name in Angela Carter's 1979 short story collection The Bloody Chamber. Carter herself co-wrote the screenplay with Jordan, based on her own short story and her earlier adaptation of The Company of Wolves for radio.

Carter's first draft of the screenplay, which contains some differences from the finished film, has been published in her anthology The Curious Room (1996).

The Curious Room

The Curious Room (ISBN 0-09-958621-5) is a book collecting various plays and scripts by English writer Angela Carter. Its full title is The Curious Room: Plays, Film Scripts and an Opera.

The book contains her original screenplays for the films The Company of Wolves and The Magic Toyshop, both of which were based on her own original stories. It also contains a draft of a libretto for an opera based on Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf, and five radio plays: "Vampirella", which she then reworked as "The Lady of the House of Love" in The Bloody Chamber collection, "The Company of Wolves", "Puss in Boots" (both reworkings of Charles Perrault's fairy tales) and two "artificial biographies", one of Victorian painter, Richard Dadd, who murdered his father, and the other about Edwardian novelist, Ronald Firbank. The collection also includes the unproduced screenplays Gun for the Devil (based upon an earlier short work of hers, collected in American Ghosts and Old World Wonders) and The Christchurch Murders (based on the Parker–Hulme murder case which also influenced the 1994 Peter Jackson film Heavenly Creatures), as well a stage adaptation of Frank Wedekind's Lulu plays. Carter's television work also included a controversial documentary entitled The Holy Family Album, which is not published here.

Edited and with production notes provided by Mark Bell, with an introduction by Susannah Clapp, the book was published by Chatto and Windus in 1996, four years after Angela Carter's death.

The Holy Family Album

The Holy Family Album is a television documentary written and narrated by Angela Carter. It was directed by JoAnn Kaplan and produced by John Ellis at Large Door Productions, London, UK. It was broadcast on the UK's Channel 4 on 3 December 1991 as part of the Without Walls series, commissioned by Waldemar Janusczcak.

The documentary treats representations of Christ in Western art as if they are photographs in God's photo album. According to John Ellis, the programme "caused considerable controversy", and was criticised in an editorial in The Times even before it was transmitted. The programme was featured in Channel 4's review programme Right to Reply and a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Council was not upheld. It has not been retransmitted or published since Angela Carter's death in 1992.

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, published in the United States as The War of Dreams, is a 1972 novel by Angela Carter. This picaresque novel is heavily influenced by surrealism, Romanticism, critical theory, and other branches of Continental philosophy. Its style is an amalgam of magical realism and postmodern pastiche. The novel has been called a theoretical fiction, as it clearly engages in some of the theoretical issues of its time, notably feminism, mass media and the counterculture.

The Magic Toyshop

This book should not be confused with Edmund Crispin's novel The Moving Toyshop or with the children's play The Magic Toyshop by Patricia Clapp & Dyanne Earley.The Magic Toyshop (1967) is a British novel by Angela Carter. It follows the development of the heroine, Melanie, as she becomes aware of herself, her environment, and her own sexuality.

The Passion of New Eve

The Passion of New Eve is a novel by Angela Carter, first published in 1977. The book is set in a dystopian United States where civil war has broken out between different political, racial and gendered groups. A dark satire, the book parodies primitive notions of gender, sexual difference and identity from a post-feminist perspective. Other major themes include sadomasochism and the politics of power.

The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography

The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography is a 1978 non-fiction book by Angela Carter. The book is a feminist re-appraisal of the work of the Marquis de Sade, who had been criticized by earlier feminist theorists such as Andrea Dworkin. Carter sees de Sade as being the first writer to see women as more than mere breeding machines, as more than just their biology and, as such, finds him liberating.

Wise Children

This article refers to the novel by Angela Carter. For the album by Tom Harrell see Wise Children (album)Wise Children (1991) was the last novel written by Angela Carter. The novel follows the fortunes of twin chorus girls, Dora and Nora Chance, and their bizarre theatrical family. It explores the subversive nature of fatherhood, the denying of which leads Nora and Dora to frivolous "illegitimate" lechery. The novel plays on Carter's admiration of Shakespeare and her love of fairy tales and the surreal, incorporating a large amount of magical realism and elements of the carnivalesque that probes and twists our expectations of reality and society.

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