- Humphrey Carpenter
Carpenter was born, died, and lived practically all of his life, in the city of
Oxford. His father was the Rt. Rev. Harry James Carpenter. His mother was Urith Monica Trevelyan, who had training in the Froebel teaching method. ["Humphrey Carpenter." Telegraph" (1 May 2005) accessed: 16 June 2008 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1480407/Humphrey-Carpenter.html)] As a child, he lived in the Warden's Lodgings at Keble College, Oxford, where his father served as Wardenuntil his appointment as Bishop of Oxford. On leaving the Dragon Schoolin Oxford, Humphrey studied at Marlborough Collegein Wiltshire, but returned to study English at Keble. During his appointment at BBC Radio Oxford, Humphrey met his future wife, Mari Prichard (whose father was Caradog Prichard, the Welsh novelist and poet); they married in 1973. ["Carpenter." "Telgraph", 2005.] [Kelly, John. "Humphrey Carpenter." "The Guardian" 5 January 2005 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,1383352,00.html) (accessed 16 June 2008)]
His notable output of biographies included:
J. R. R. Tolkien(1977) (also editingof " 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).
He also wrote histories of
BBC Radio 3(on which he had regular stints as broadcaster), the British satireboom of the 1960s, "Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s" (2002), and a centennial history of the Oxford University Dramatic Societyin 1985. 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, has become a standard reference source.
A distinguished broadcaster, he began his career at BBC Radio Oxford as a presenter and producer before moving to national radio. He played a vital role in launching Radio 3's ongoing arts discussion programme "
Night Waves" and acted as a regular presenter of other programmes on the network including Radio 3's afternoon drivetime programme " In Tune" and, until it was discontinued, its Sunday request programme "Listeners' Choice". Until the time of his death, he presented the BBC Radio 4biography series " Great Lives" recorded in Bristol. The last edition recorded before his death featured an interviewwith the singer Eddi Readerabout the Robert Burns, the major focus of her creative work. BBC Radio 4 broadcast this particular programme on New Year's Eve, 2004.
In 1983, he formed a 1930s style
jazz band, Vile Bodies, which for many years enjoyed a residency at the Ritz Hotelin 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 Hollywoodchild stars.
Carpenter's other abilities included being a talented
amateur jazz musicianand 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 diseasefrom which he had suffered for several years. His survivors included his wife, and daughters Clare Carpenter and Kate Carpenter. [Kelly, "Humphrey Carpenter." 2005.]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,1383352,00.html A perceptive biographer and engaging broadcaster] , "
The Guardian", 5 January 2005
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1427093,00.html Gently mischievous broadcaster and prolific writer] , "
The Times", 6 January 2005
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/01_january/05/carpenter.shtml Tributes Paid to Humphrey Carpenter BBC Radio]
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