Humphrey Carpenter

Humphrey Carpenter

Humphrey Carpenter (1946–2005) was an English biographer, author, and radio broadcaster.

Carpenter was born, died, and lived practically all of his life, in the city of Oxford. On leaving the Dragon School in Oxford, Carpenter studied at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, but returned to study English at Keble. During his appointment at BBC Radio Oxford, Humphrey met his future wife, Mari Prichard. They married in 1973.

His notable output of biographies included: J. R. R. Tolkien (1977) (also editing of The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien), The Inklings (1978), W. H. Auden (1981), Ezra Pound (1988), Evelyn Waugh (1989), Benjamin Britten (1992), Robert Runcie (1997), and Spike Milligan (2004). His Mr Majeika series of children's books enjoyed considerable popularity and were successfully adapted for television. His encyclopedic work The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature (1984), written jointly with his wife, became a standard reference source.

In 1983, he formed a 1930s style jazz band, Vile Bodies, which for many years enjoyed a residency at the Ritz Hotel in London. He also founded the Mushy Pea Theatre Group, a children's drama group based in Oxford, which premiered his Mr Majeika: The Musical in 1991 and Babes, a musical about Hollywood child stars.

Carpenter's other abilities included being a talented amateur jazz musician and an accomplished player of the piano, the saxophone, and the double-bass, playing the last instrument professionally in a dance band in the 1970s.

His early death was the result of heart failure, compounded by the Parkinson's disease from which he had suffered for several years. A commemorative stained glass window has been installed in The St. Margaret's Institute, Polstead Road honouring Humphrey's many accomplishments. He was survived by his wife, and two daughters.


Humphrey Carpenter. Wikipedia.

Edited: Thialfi October 28, 2009
Book Covers
J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography7.66
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien7.36

Others non-spefi books (2)

1981 | non-fiction

1977 | non-fiction > biography