British writer whose imaginative novels, which blend fantasy with realism, have won her a cult following.
Born in Eastbourne, Angela Stalker was brought up in Yorkshire and London, failed to qualify for higher education, and followed her father into local journalism. Marrying in 1960, she moved to Bristol, where she relieved her boredom as a housewife by taking a degree in English. Her first novel, Shadow Dance (1966), was written while she was still an undergraduate. Several Perceptions (1968) won the Somerset Maugham Prize. Following her divorce in 1972, she lived in Japan for two years, working as a bar hostess before moving to the USA and Australia, where she taught creative writing. Carter's Japanese experiences are described in an essay in the collection Nothing Sacred (1982). Her growing interest in female masochism, pornography, and the bizarre informed her essay The Sadeian Woman: an exercise in cultural history (1979).
In 1984 she wrote the screenplay for The Company of Wolves (1984), which derived from her interest in fairy tales. In 1987 came another film based on one of her stories, The Magic Toyshop. By her second husband, Carter gave birth to a son in 1984, the year in which she published the acclaimed Nights at the Circus. Her last novel, Wise Children, was published in 1991, just before she died of cancer. Since her death she has become the most popular modern British author on university courses and the subject of many doctoral dissertations.