Joyce Cary

Author of ‘the last great English political novel’...

Novelist Joyce Cary was born Arthur Joyce Lunel in Derry in 1888. As a youngster he spent long holidays in Inishowen in Co Donegal, although his Anglo Irish family no longer owned an estate there. His family were also associated with nearby Dungiven. At the age of 17, Cary left Ireland to study art in Edinburgh and Paris.

After reading Law at Oxford, Carey made for Montenegro in 1912 where he served as a Red Cross orderly in two Balkan wars. During the first world war he served with a Nigerian regiment in the Cameroons campaign until wounded. Cary returned to England, settling in Oxford in 1920. He married and had four sons, and died in Oxford in 1957.

His novels include Aissa Saved (1932), An American Visitor (1933), The African Witch (1936), Castle Corner (1938), Mister Johnson (1939), Charley is My Darling (1940), A House of Children (1941), Herself Surprised (1941), To be a Pilgrim (1942) and The Horse’s Mouth, later made into a film starring Alec Guinness. His short stories appeared as Spring Song and other Stories in 1960.

Christopher Harvie, in The Centre of Things: Political Fiction in Britain from Disraeli to the Present (1991) identifies Cary’s Chester Nimmo trilogy as ‘the last great English political novel’.