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Carter, Angela

Angela Carter was a feminist writer, often using the magical realism style, giving credibility to her characters, who seem to coexist between this world and another. Carter’s novels are also classed as sometimes carnivalesque, with a chaotic cast and pace fuelled by black humour.

Carter was well travelled and lived in Japan, US, Asia as well as Europe. She was fluent in French and German. Her works make the female reader examine their own position in society and think about how far they are slaves to patriarchy, as she often felt in her first marriage. In his literary criticism of her, Scott Dimovitz calls her a ‘moral pornographer’, capturing her sometimes salacious tone, which is used to powerfully represent women’s lives, putting them back at the centre of their own narratives. One famous quotation from Carter which foregrounds her interest in misogyny is ‘What is marriage but prostitution to one man instead of many?’

Carter switched effortlessly between genres, writing not only fiction but also radio drama, journalism, poetry, children’s books and the text for an opera based on Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. She moved in literary circles, tutoring author Kazuo Ishiguro and inviting authors such as J G Ballard, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie to her home in Clapham. Her passion was in retelling stories from different and challenging perspectives, creating literature that is fluid and never static, sometimes violent and often graphic. Be ready to be plunged into a different world if you step between her pages.
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Angela Carter was born

Angela Carter was born on 7th May in Eastbourne. Her father was a journalist and she would later follow in his footsteps. Her mother was overprotective which may have contributed to Carter’s need for solitude and inward reflection as an adult.

Evacuated to Yorkshire to live with her maternal grandmother

After the war, she returned to London and often visited the cinema, which influenced her dramatic style in years to come.

Married for the first time

She married Paul Carter. They divorced in 1972.

The Magic Toyshop was published


Moved to Japan for two years

There, she claims she became radicalised into feminism due to the freedom this gave her.

Married for the second time

She married Mark Pearce.

The Bloody Chamber was published

Carter’s aim was to expose the latent sexuality and patriarchal control reinforced through literature. She makes women into heroes.

Wrote The Sadeian Woman

It became the first non-fiction work to be published by feminist publishers Virago. Controversially, she explored how the notorious de Sade actually opened up sexual freedom for women and lambasted oppression alongside double standards in society.

Gave birth to her son, Mark


Film of The Company of Wolves

Her novel The Company of Wolves was made into a Gothic fantasy horror film.

Film of The Magic Toyshop

Her novel The Magic Toyshop was also made into a Gothic fantasy film.

Last novel published

Carter’s last novel, Wise Children, was published, a tale of two sisters and their madcap theatrical lives which are influenced by lack of a father figure. Later, this was turned into a stage spectacular.

Died aged 51 of lung cancer

She did not manage to complete her sequel to Jane Eyre told from the perspective of Mr Rochester’s daughter, Adele Varens. Her death caused a resurgence of interest in her work.

A children's book published

Her children’s book Sea-Cat and Dragon King was published posthumously.

Ranked tenth in The Times list of 50 great British writers since 1945


Nights at the Circus awarded Best of the James Tait Black

The novel was awarded a special prize as the best ever winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, which it originally won in 1984.

Carter’s books are still making waves

The Bloody Chamber received a Reedsy award as one of the top 100 horror stories of all time.