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  • Published: 15 October 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099575726
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 544
  • RRP: $22.99

The Invention of Angela Carter

A Biography

The much-anticipated, first full authorised biography of one of the greatest, most imaginative writers of the twentieth century




Selected as a Book of the Year 2016 in The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Financial Times, Spectator and Observer

Angela Carter's life was as unconventional as anything in her fiction. Through her fearlessly original and inventive books, including The Bloody Chamber and Nights at the Circus, she became an icon to a generation and one of the most acclaimed English writers of the last hundred years. This is her first full and authorised biography.

Edmund Gordon uncovers Carter's life story - from a young woman trying to write in a tiny bedsit in Tokyo, to one of the most important and daring writers of her day. From a life full of adventure sprang work so fantastic, dazzling and seductive that it permanently changed and reinvigorated British literature. This is the story of how Angela Carter invented herself.

'An exemplary piece of work... Everyone should read it' Spectator

  • Published: 15 October 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099575726
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 544
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Edmund Gordon

Edmund Gordon was born in 1982. He studied philosophy at Trinity College Dublin and English Literature at University College London, and since 2012 has been a Lecturer in Creative Writing at King’s College London. A regular contributor to the TLS and the London Review of Books, he has also written for a variety of national newspapers, including the Guardian, Observer and SundayTimes.

Praise for The Invention of Angela Carter

Splendid…this is an exemplary piece of work…which will satisfy readers, and on which further investigation can rest with great confidence that nothing has been concealed and no pathway has been neglected. Everyone should read it.

Philip Hensher, Spectator

[A] gripping biography, brimming with new material… He has undertaken feats of scholarship and written an admirably clearsighted book… Gordon’s achievement, however, is tremendous. From baroque entanglements of material and controversy, he brings living contours into view… A quarter century on, this new biography should renew our readerly appetites for Carter.

Alexandra Harris, Financial Times

This fascinating, highly readable biography will be extremely hard to beat.

Christina Patterson, Sunday Times

[It] glints with well-placed detail and witty apercus, and it pays proper attention to what matters most, Angela Carter’s writing… Let’s hope that this thoughtful and engaging biography will introduce a generation of new readers to her work.

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Literary Review

[An] astute biography… Edmund Gordon has done an industrious and intelligent job.

DJ Taylor, The Times

[A] rich, well-written and sympathetic biography... this book should introduce her to new readers. She deserves them.

Anne Chisholm, Prospect

Meticulously researched, [it] treats her novels and stories, if not her journalism, with deep respect and intelligence.

Rachel Cooke, Observer

A brilliantly researched, astute and fascinating account of the growth and emergence of one of the most heroic figures in modern fiction.

Colm Toibin

Edmund Gordon brings a wealth of research, intelligence and wit to this biography of a great and subversive writer. He vividly illuminates Angela Carter’s life and work, underlining her bravery, her discontents and her ultimate flourishing.

Lisa Appignanesi

Fine and sympathetic…the book is as much a treasure trove of unseen work as it is a conventional biography…[Gordon] never loses focus on why a biography on Carter is important: she was a singularly significant writer who changed the landscape of English language fiction.

Scotland on Sunday

Elegant and subtle.

Daily Telegraph

Gordon’s book reminded me of the deep pleasures if literary biography at its best. It will fascinate Carter’s admirers, create interest in her work among a new generation and possibly even make her detractors think again.


Edmund Gordon has done a remarkable job.

Evening Standard

An intimate portrait of the woman behind the fantastical narratives.


Gordon’s is a warm sort of skepticism, and his exemplary, subtle Life is attuned to Carter’s anarchic wit.

Gaby Wood, Sunday Telegraph

[A] fine and sympathetic biography… Fascinating.

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

[It] has the irreplaceable imprint of a life still warm to the touch of memory.

Rosemary Hill, Guardian

He’s polite and respectful and extremely through.

Jenny Turner, London Review of Books

The strange, earthy zest in Carter’s books is fully displayed here… Gordon is excellent on her need for literary recognition; for love; and for the more prosaic matter of earning a living… Thanks to Gordon’s sympathetic, stylish book, we can peep under the witchy mask, and delight in a fantastical life lived fully.

Philip Womack, Oldie

The true Carter emerges from the pages of Edmund Gordon’s expansive new biography… Reading this book, it seems clear that more readers and biographers should devote their time to this complex, intelligent and thoroughly un-boring woman.

The Economist

Gordon did a splendid job… The research and the just sobriety of his writing have produced a book which will always have a special place on the Carter shelf.

Philip Hensher, Spectator, Book of the Year

A wise, generous and inspiring book by an exciting young scholar.

Richard Davenport-Hines, Spectator, Book of the Year

It's almost 25 years since the death of Angela Carter, one of Britain's most inventive, imaginative novelists. This first full biography reveals that she followed her own unconventional path and led a life filled with adventure, incident, misfortune and love… Listeners are in for a treat as her story unfolds.


This is a meticulous life of the anarchically inventive novelist.

Daily Telegraph, Book of the Year

His work is full of care and elegance, his ear attuned to Carter’s wit.

Gaby Wood, Daily Telegraph, Book of the Year

The best biography of the year was Edmund Gordon’s luminous The Invention of Angela Carter. He beautifully drew the best from Carter’s friends and acquaintances, and the result will become a classic.

Philip Hensher, Guardian, Book of the Year

A fascinating journey through layers of English and Japanese bohemia while triumphantly bringing us closer to the brilliantly wayward personality and mind of one of the finest, most original writers of the last 50 years.

Kazuo Ishiguro, Guardian, Book of the Year

My book of the year is Edmund Gordon’s thorough and timely biography… Fascinating.

Helen Simpson, Observer, Book of the Year

I would enthusiastically recommend Edmund Gordon’s subtle, empathetic account of Angela Carter.

Lara Feigel, Observer, Book of the Year

[A] fine biography… It is not only insightful about her work, but also wise in its approach to presenting a portrait of her life… Her own light has gone, but her brilliance glitters still.

Harper's Bazaar

[It is] humane, wide-ranging, replete with deftly handled detail and as sensitive as its subject to the fabular nature of identity. Gordon’s formidable critical faculties go to work on the diaries, drafts, fiction and poetry… A rich and scrupulous account.

Claire Lowdon, Sunday Times, Book of the Year

[It is] lush with comment from those who knew her best, and benefiting from full access to her manuscripts, letters and journals, Gordon’s research and style is impeccable.

Lucy Scholes

One of the stand-out books of 2016.

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday, Book of the Year

[An] impressively detailed and elegant account of Carter’s life and work… [It] is ingenious.

Alex Clark, Times Literary Supplement


Alan Bennett, Financial Times

Edmund Gordon is clearly a serious and gifted biographer… Gordon discusses Carter’s writing with skill and sense

Alison Lurie, New York Review of Books

Gordon’s is a warm sort of skepticism; his subtle study is attuned to her anarchic wit

Gabriel Weston, Daily Telegraph

A very good biography, which makes Carter seem absolutely real.

William Leith, Evening Standard

Finely judged and elegantly written… He brings out her wit, in contrast to the ethereal Wise Witch myth that grew around her in middle age… His biography has the irreplaceable imprint of a life still warm to the touch of memory.

Rosemary Hill, Guardian

Gordon’s book is both a hugely engaging portrayal of a wonderful writer – cantankerous and mercurial, sharp-tongued and meticulously observant, possibly rather monstrous – and of the pivotal time in British publishing in which she worked.

Neil D.A Stewart, Civilian

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