The Magic Toyshop Background

The Magic Toyshop Background

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.

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