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‘Nothing sacred’: Angela Carter’s iconoclasm, place-making, and memorialization

Crofts, Charlotte; Mulvey Roberts, Marie



It is ironic that the iconoclastic Angela Carter was ‘canonized’ as the ‘Good Witch’ of English literature following her death which raises the question of whether this form of commemoration actually contained or limited her reception? This chapter will draw attention to under-researched areas of her life and work through an analysis of her treatment of memorialization and desecration in her fiction. This ranges from the fallen statue of Queen Victoria in The Magic Toyshop in which the ‘carved eyeballs’ of a stone lioness stare ‘with the uncanny blindness of statues, who seem always to be perceiving another dimension, where everything is statues’ through to Fevvers posing as tableaux vivants in Nights at the Circus from ‘Cupid’ to ‘Winged Victory’. Other examples include the significance of the fractured statue of a penis in the all-female underground town of Beulah and the desecrated wax-work statues in a macabre hall of fame within The Passion of New Eve.

The legacy of Angela Carter resides not only in her books but is now taking the form of heritage plaques on buildings where she lived. In the wake of Black Lives Matter, memorialization has been politicized as never before. As the Colston statue came down in the centre of Bristol, so did a plaque for Carter go up in Clifton. As a breaker of icons would she have approved? She is now being claimed as one of Bristol’s most important writers and appropriately a website has been set up documenting her links with Bristol and a guided walk of Angela Carter’s Bristol was created by the newly founded Angela Carter Society which we co-founded. The twenty-five years since her death proved to be a watershed moment which embraced her interdisciplinary interests in the city. It was followed by commemorations of what would have been her eightieth birthday, signaling that she has truly come of age. This chapter will also explore the transformational symbiosis between writer and place through which the civic importance of a local writer, who has received international acclaim, has now been finally recognized in Bristol, Bath and London.


Crofts, C., & Mulvey Roberts, M. ‘Nothing sacred’: Angela Carter’s iconoclasm, place-making, and memorialization. In Angela Carter's futures: Representations, adaptations and legacies. Bloomsbury. Manuscript submitted for publication

Deposit Date Mar 28, 2024
Book Title Angela Carter's futures: Representations, adaptations and legacies
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