Feminist fiction Icon – Angela Carter

Feminist fiction Icon - Angela Carter

Oh, Angela Carter! Feminist, magical weaver of darkly sensuous, funny and gripping modern magical fairytales, fairy godmother of Virago press, anorexia sufferer and chainsmoker, you were one of the greatest writers of our time. We salute you.

Dear Angela Carter:

Like many other women of the world, you were at least partially inspired to become a feminist through reading Simone de Beauvoir. We’re sorry you suffered from anorexia when you were young. We’re so pleased you got to spread your wings and travel the world, from Yorkshire to Japan. We’re delighted your writing talent and your buffalo stance on feminism combined to make some of the most extraordinary fiction known to man – dark and twisted modern magical fairytales that defy genre and make the world feel rich and strange and alive. We not only salute you, we bow deeply from the hip. And curtsey while we’re at it. You’re brilliant! May you live forever on our bookshelves and in our hearts and minds…

Love, Mookychick xxx

Angela Carter Quotes:

“Language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation”

“Stars on our door, stars in our eyes, stars exploding in the bits of our brains where the common sense should have been”

“It is far easier for a woman to lead a blameless life than it is for a man; all she has to do is to avoid sexual intercourse like the plague.”

Angela Carter best known for:

Her darkly twisted writing, Angela Carter was a novelist, journalist, playwright, and pretty much every other occupation you can think of that requires a pen, paper and an imagination. Her works are often based around folklore and fairytales, with a feminist slant that still resonates today.

Angela Carter least known for:

Being born with the name Angela Stalker (which strikes a 10 on the Brilliant Name Scale).

Angela Carter – a potted biography

Born in 1940, Angela Carter was evacuated with her brother in early childhood to Yorkshire, where she lived with her grandmother during WWII. She suffered from anorexia through most of her teenage years.

Once she left school, she was given a job in a London newspaper (her father was an influential journalist). She left this job to go to university with her new husband, Paul Carter, when she was twenty. However, she continued to write fiction, and won the Somerset Maugham award for her early work, Several Perceptions. She used the money from this to leave her husband and go to Japan. She worked in a bar and wrote for two years, returning to Britian in 1972 with a new awareness of how gender and symbols impacted society. This led her on the road to feminism. It also influenced her later work because it was her first glimpse of a truly foreign environment. It taught her the importance of sybolism, signs and unwritten social rules, which perhaps is why there are so many taboo themes such as incest and female sexuality in her writing.

That wasn’t the end of Carter’s travels – she was fluent in French and German, which came in useful as she spent years of her life travelling around Europe and America. She remarried to Mark Pearce in 1977 and had a son, Alexander, with him. She died at 51 of lung cancer, in Feburary 1992.

Angela Carter’s feminist credentials

Carter was a vocal feminist, influenced by her teenage readings of de Beauvoir – she advocated women’s empowerment, and this is often shown by the strong female characters in her writing. She took a non-didactic route towards feminism, prefering to show women as liberated beings rather than lecture to them what they should and should not be. She was the “fairy godmother” of the feminist printing company Virago, bringing feminist literature and radical political ideas to the masses.

Her writing was grotesque, gothic, often quite funny, and brimming with potent sexuality and carnality. Carter was a true feminist – she followed her own path and indulged her own desires. In a time where women were still expected to look pretty, sit at home and recieve visitors, she went out into the world and learned from it. And 19 years after her too-early death, she may no longer be learning, but she is certainly still teaching.


See all books by Angela Carter