Angela Carter (1940–1992)
was born in Eastbourne and brought up in south Yorkshire. One of Britain’s most original and disturbing writers, she read English at Bristol University and wrote her first novel, Shadow Dance, in 1965. The Magic Toyshop won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1969 and Several Perceptions won the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1968. More novels followed and in 1974 her translation of the fairy tales of Charles Perrault was published, and in the early nineties she edited the Virago Book of Fairy Tales. Her journalism appeared in almost every major publication; a collection of the best of these were published by Virago in Nothing Sacred (1982). She also wrote poetry and a film script together with Neil Jordan of her story The Company of Wolves. Her last novel, Wise Children, was published to widespread acclaim in 1991. Angela Carter’s death at age fifty-one in February 1992 ‘robbed the English literary scene of one of its most vivacious and compelling voices’ – Independent.
The scar drew her whole face sideways and even in profile, with the hideous thing turned away, her face was horribly lop-sided, skin, features and all, dragged away from the bone. She was a beautiful girl, a white and golden girl, like moonlight on daisies, a month ago.'
And yet the men still hover around her, more out of curiosity than lust, and none more so than the wildly seductive, dangerous funny man, Honeybuzzard; lithe as a stick of liquorice, he is the demonic puppet master at the swirling centre of the tale.
'In a modern day horror story gleaming with perfect 1960's detail, she performs a double act, conjuring up just the right amount of unease and perversion beneath the idiosyncratic business of relatively ordinary lives' THE TIMES
Once upon a time fairy tales weren't meant just for children, and neither is Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales. This stunning collection contains lyrical tales, bloody tales and hilariously funny and ripely bawdy stories from countries all around the world- from the Arctic to Asia - and no dippy princesses or soppy fairies. Instead, we have pretty maids and old crones; crafty women and bad girls; enchantresses and midwives; rascal aunts and odd sisters.
This fabulous celebration of strong minds, low cunning, black arts and dirty tricks could only have been collected by the unique and much-missed Angela Carter. Illustrated throughout with original woodcuts.
Cover design by Jacqueline Groag
'This crazy world whirled about her, men and women dwarfed by toys and puppets, where even the birds were mechanical and the few human figures went masked . . . She was in the night again, and the doll was herself'
One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother's wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave her rural home, she is sent to London to live with relatives she has never met: gentle Aunt Margaret, mute since her wedding day; and her brothers, Francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile Finn. Brooding over all is Uncle Philip, who loves only the puppets he creates in his workshop, which are life-sized - and uncannily life-like.
In the pursuit of magnificence, nothing is sacred,' says Angela Carter, and magnificence is indeed her own achievement. One of the most acclaimed novelists of her generation, her work as a journalist and critic was no less original.
Long autobiographical pieces on her life in South Yorkshire and South London are followed by highly individual inspections of 'abroad'. Some of her most brilliant writing is devoted to Japan - exotically and erotically described here - so perfectly suited to the Carter pen. Domestically, Angela Carter used her mordant wit and accurate eye to inspect England and Englishness as it manifested itself throughout the land. Then she turns to her own craft, and her extraordinarily wide-ranging book reviews are masterpieces.
I know nothing. I am a tabula rasa, a blank sheet of paper, an unhatched egg. I have not yet become a woman, although I possess a woman's shape. Not a woman, no: both more and less than a real woman. Now I am a being as mythic and monstrous as Mother herself . . . '
New York has become the City of Dreadful Night where dissolute Leilah performs a dance of chaos for Evelyn. But this young Englishman's fate lies in the arid desert, where a many-breasted fertility goddess will wield her scalpel to transform him into the new Eve.
Sexuality is power' - so says the Marquis de Sade, philosopher and pornographer extraordinaire. His virtuous Justine keeps to the rules laid down by men, her reward rape and humiliation; his Juliette, Justine's triumphantly monstrous antithesis, viciously exploits her sexuality. In a world where all tenderness is false, all beds are minefields.
But now Sade has met his match.
With invention and genius, Angela Carter takes on these outrageous figments of his extreme imagination, and transforms them into symbols of our time - the Hollywood sex goddesses, mothers and daughters, pornography, even the sacred shrines of sex and marriage lie devastatingly exposed before our eyes. Angela Carter delves into the viscera of our distorted sexuality and reveals a dazzling vision of love which admits neither of conqueror nor of conquered.
Centre stage in Angela Carter's unruly tale of the Flower Power Generation is Joseph - a decadent, disorientated rebel without a cause. A self-styled nihilist whose girlfriend has abandoned him, Joseph has decided to give up existing. But his concerned friends and neighbours have other plans.
In an effort to join in the spirit of protest which motivates his contemporaries, Joseph frees a badger from the local zoo; sends a turd airmail to the President of the United States; falls in love with the mother of his best friend; and, accompanied by the strains of an old man's violin, celebrates Christmas Eve in a bewildering state of sexual discovery. But has he found the Meaning of Life?
This bestselling collection of stories extols the female virtues of discontent, sexual disruptiveness and bad manners Here are subversive tales - by Ama Ata Aidoo, Jane Bowles, Angela Carter, Colette, Bessie Head, Jamaica Kincaid and Katherine Mansfield among others - all have one thing in common: the wish to restore adventuresses and revolutionaries to their rightful position as models for all women
Reflecting the wide-ranging intelligence and deliciously anarchic taste of Angela Carter, some of these stories celebrate toughness and resilience, some of them low cunning: all of them are about not being nice.