Who was Joyce Cary? What did Joyce Cary do? Information on British novelist Joyce Cary biography, life story and works.
Joyce Cary; (1888-1957), British novelist, whose best-known works brilliantly depict the struggle of the individual against the restrictions imposed by society. His books have a lively style, a compassion for the human condition, and unforgettable characters, and for these qualities some of his novels have been compared with those of Charles Dickens. Cary’s most famous novel, The Horse’s Mouth, tells the story of a nonconforming artist with gusto and wit.
Joyce Cary was born in Londonderry, Ireland, on Dec. 7, 1888. He studied painting in Edinburgh and Paris. Later he attended Trinity College, Oxford, graduating in 1912. In 1913 he went to Nigeria in West Africa, where he joined the Nigerian political service. He remained in West Africa as a colonial administrator until 1920.
Returning to England, Cary decided to become a writer and spent the next 12 years perfecting his craft. His early novels— Aissa Saved (1932), The African Witch (1936), and Mister Johnson (1939)—were drawn from his experiences in Africa. Cary’s reputation grew in the 1940’s with the publication of his first trilogy: Herself Surprised (1941), To Be a Pilgrim (1942), and The Horse’s Mouth (1944). These books tell about the relationship among a Blakean visionary artist, an inhibited upper-class lawyer, and an alert, charitable cook, who was married, after a fashion, to both. Each of the three novels is told from the point of view of the character most concerned with the events in it, thus enriching and broadening the whole. A second trilogy, on a political theme, comprises Prisoner of Grace (1952), Except the Lord (1953), and Not Honor More (1955).
Cary developed muscular atrophy in 1955 and died at Oxford, England, on March 29, 1957. Spring Song and Other Stories was published posthumously in 1960.
Joyce Cary wrote several novels and collections of short stories during his career. Some of his most notable works include:
- “Mister Johnson” (1939) – Cary’s first novel, based on his experiences as a colonial administrator in Nigeria.
- “Herself Surprised” (1941) – A novel that explores the themes of personal freedom and human dignity, as well as the complex relationships between men and women.
- “To be a Pilgrim” (1942) – A collection of short stories that explores the experiences of individuals in colonial Africa and Europe.
- “The Horse’s Mouth” (1944) – A novel that focuses on the life of an eccentric painter and his attempts to find meaning and fulfillment in his work.
- “A House of Children” (1941) – A novel that explores the themes of family, childhood, and the search for personal identity.
- “An American Visitor” (1953) – A novel that deals with the themes of cultural conflict and the search for individual freedom.
These works, along with Cary’s essays and paintings, are considered important contributions to the canon of English literature and continue to be widely read and studied today.