“The nice thing about being a writer is that you can make magic happen without learning tricks.” – Humphrey Carpenter
While he is noted for his writing, he was also extremely well-known in England for his long career on BBC Radio before his death in 2005. And, he made a name for himself in the entertainment world as a versatile musician. An accomplished player of the piano, the saxophone, and the double-bass, he did the last instrument professionally in a dance band in the 1970s. And, in 1983, he formed a 1930s style jazz band, Vile Bodies, which for many years enjoyed a residency at the Ritz Hotel in London.
Carpenter 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 notable writing output was primarily biographies, including The Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and their Friends (winner of the 1978 Somerset Maugham Award); J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography; Ezra Pound (winner of the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize); and Benjamin Britten. And he won numerous friends for both himself and his writing with his own humorous autobiography.
“Autobiography,” he said with a chuckle, “is probably the most respectable form of lying.”
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