I read Past Bedtime



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Welcome to I Read Past Bedtime, a blog for 20-somethings finding their way in the world.


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Woman of the Week: Angela Carter

This week has been somewhat clouded by annoying men speaking out about things they know nothing about (Ched Evans and Tim Gurner, I’m looking at you).  Not to tar the whole sex with a very broad brush, but I feel it’s time we started celebrating some badass women instead (and my blog, with its wide reach and high influence, seems just the platform!)

I’ve been meaning to write something about Angela Carter ever since I read her biography and fell in love, but suddenly it seems like good timing. As a writer, she’s brilliant; as a woman, she’s an inspiration. Here’s why Angela Carter is my first Woman of the Week.

She never succumbed to peer pressure

When she started work at a national newspaper, Carter discovered that it was something of a boys’ club. Rather than succumb to the environment and turn up in snappy suits and angular jackets (probably the route I’d go down…), Carter decided to flout her femininity by rocking enormous floppy hats, floaty dresses and green lipstick. And the fact that it really started to rile her colleagues? All the better in her view.

She had a wicked sense of humour

You know that one friend who can’t resist stoking the fire? (I have about five…) This was Angela. Nothing pleased her more than dropping a provocative comment in the middle of a dinner party. The same gleefully devious sense of humour runs through her writing.

She wasn’t afraid to go it alone

Before the gap yah became the typical rite of passage for any self-respecting youth, Carter took herself off to Japan to explore a culture that fascinated her. She would later spend time lecturing in America and Australia, with and without family in tow. Intrepid before it was cool.

She fell in love with a man that looked like ‘a werewolf’

For the ultimate feminine icon, only the most rugged will do.

She was just as clueless about life as us

Nobody likes the person who has it all too figured out – luckily Carter is not that woman. Having taken her young son to a specialist after worrying that he wasn’t talking, it transpired that this was because Carter wasn’t saying anything much to him. Assuming her son would just pick up English with no outward example is particularly entertaining from someone whose forte is the English Language. (Do not panic, the boy now speaks).

She embraced ageing

Whatever ‘ageing gracefully’ might mean, Carter wasn’t a fan. With her enormous glasses, long white hair and extravagant clothing, friends and strangers alike described her as having a rather witchy look about her, something she decided to take as a compliment.  

She was fiercely loyal

Carter entered the literary industry before writing was big business. But, as the industry started expanding around her, and literary friends began switching to big named publishers that paid vast sums, she stayed loyal to those who had always had faith in her work – even if they couldn’t pay as handsomely.

In later life, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, Carter advised her agent to do whatever she could to make money for ‘the boys’ – her husband and son. 



These, among many, are the reasons why I’m such an Angela Carter fan, but even without the above, you should still check out her writing. Reading an Angela Carter novel is like sitting around a fire and being told a story from an elderly relative that you don’t quite have figured out. Always witty, devilishly scandalous and a master of words, Angela Carter needs to be on your to read list.