In 1967, Angela Carter won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for her novel The Magic Toyshop. The novel is considered an essential component in the evolutionary process in which Carter became a progenitor of a more avant-garde offshoot of Gothic fiction which as today grown into a full-blown genre: reworking or subverting fairy tale and folk tale trope and narrative to update them as a reflection of contemporary society.
Carter’s young heroine is by turns cast as a latter-day fairy tale princess expecting to meet her Prince Charming and the iconic fairy tale orphan victimized by an evil step-parent in the form of an uncle by blood. Carter even introduces elements of what would become a recurring motif in much of her later fiction: the Bluebeard victim of curiosity. Like most fairy tales, ultimately The Magic Toyshop isn’t about the magic surrounding the protagonist, but the magical transformation taking that protagonist from a state of innocence into a state of maturity.
The novel was adapted into a film in 1987 with Carter writing the screenplay. In 2001, the novel was dramatized for the stage by Bryony Lavery.