Inspirational Women Week: Angela Carter

As Brexit looms and Trump continues his presidency in America, there is no better time than now to escape into a good book. And what better solace can be found than that of the works of Angela Carter – ones where worlds are run by sadistic men but turned on their heads by wild women. 

As a former Clifton resident, Carter would no doubt have some choice words about our current political climate and the movements spreading to Bristol. She was infamous for her refusal to compromise when change was needed. Her decision not to go to University as her family pushed her to do in 1958 but instead to join the protests in favour of Nuclear Disarmament seems much in the spirit of those today involved in Extinction Rebellion. The words of Greta Thunberg, “How dare you?”, brings to mind one of Carter’s own heroines – her little red riding hood laughing in the face of the wolf and declaring she is “nobody’s meat”. The spirit and vigour of Carter’s over-indulgent prose is more than enough to inspire those struggling against the social conventions of today. 

It’s with this in mind that I’d implore you to delve into Carter’s stories today. Her ideas themselves were founded in opposition to patriarchal ruling - or rather maternal in this instance. As a child Angela was spoilt and adored by a mother who wanted nothing less than a perfect daughter. At the age of eight this treatment escalated to what more resembled a form smothering, to the point where Angela’s mother insisted that she left the door open even when on the toilet. It was against this treatment that her prose emerged – a prose in opposition to any type of control. It was her own loss of agency that inspired her to take back control and create an unmistakeable voice for herself in the stories that she told.

And what could be more relevant today, in a world of Thunberg and rebellions, than the voice of a little girl seeking to defy their overbearing mother? Carter’s voice and style borrows from every genre, is fuelled by anarchy and desire – it brings to life dreadful disappointments in a way which not only inspires and encourages change but mocks the voice which prior held her captive. So if you have a second to yourself before university kicks back into full swing, embark into the carnival that is the novels of Angela Carter.

This article is part of the HC Bristol Inspirational Women week.