history / Literature / People

In good company

3 August 2023

I continue to be surprised and impressed by the number of names linked to Croydon; famous actors, musicians, inventors, activists, writers… the list goes on.

So this week dear readers, in my research I was pleasantly surprised by an unexpected name that I actually already knew VERY well, but had no idea there was a Croydon link. Love it when that happens.

Angela Carter

Ok reasons to write about her:

  1. We were both born on 7 May.
  2. Her name is Angela (me too!)
  3. She wrote one of my favourite short stories of all time
  4. She was a bit of a potty mouth 5. There’s also a Croydon link (me too!) – it’s almost like we’re the same person right!

Angela Carter was an English novelist, poet and journalist who began her career at The Croydon Advertiser whose print works used to be down on Surrey Street next to the foot bridge, now the place we know and love, ‘Art & Craft’. After not doing well enough in school to gain a place at University, she began work at The Advertiser at age 18. An apprenticeship that would aid her in later gaining a place at Bristol University.

Carter is known for her feminist and picaresque works with great critical acclaim. Her writing was magical, dark, witty, subversive and daring. The editor of The Daily Telegraph, David Holloway, called her ‘the Salvador Dali of the English letters’ and The Times ranked her as tenth of their list of ‘The 50 greatest writers since 1945’.

So what did she write? One of her most famous works is ‘A Company of Wolves’ which was adapted in 1984 to a film of the same name and has also done its rounds on the stage too.


The story is a sort of gothic fantasy horror with the film starring Angela Lansbury and David Warner. It’s a story that plays on Little Red Riding Hood but in the darkest sense: it weaves a series of twisted short tales throughout. The lead character, Rosaleen, is fierce and uncompromising; ahead of her time and wiser than her years, much like Carter herself. I highly recommend the film as well as the original story which is part of Angela Carter’s short fantastic story collection, The Bloody Chamber.

Other works include the Nights at the Circus which won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature, The Magic Toyshop which follows the development of the heroine, Melanie, as she becomes aware of who she is, the world she lives in and her own sexuality, Shadow Dance (her first novel) acclaimed by Anthony Burgess who said ‘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.” These are just a few of her novels that I highly recommend you check out.

Her last novel, Wise Children, once again dips into surrealism centred on the world of music hall and a rather bizarre theatrical family. It was published in 1991 and would be her last novel, although she had begun work on a sequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, but sadly only a synopsis survives. Angela Carter died aged 51 on 16 February 1992 after developing lung cancer.

If you would like to learn more about Angela Carter there is a rather captivating BBC documentary about her which is available on Youtube called: of Wolves and Women.

And here’s a handy link: https://youtu.be/7GMb_VPoLr4

Read about some other notable famous female Croydonians from history in our features on Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Jane Drew, Barbara Jones and Lilian Braithwaite.

Angela Carter portrait from Wikipedia, header by the Croydonist

Posted by Angela (AKA Angela Carter fan girl)

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