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Carpenter, Humphrey (William Bouverie) 1946-2005

CARPENTER, Humphrey (William Bouverie) 1946-2005

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born April 29, 1946, in Oxford, England; died from a pulmonary embolism January 4, 2005, in Oxford, England. Broadcaster and author. Carpenter was a radio broadcaster best remembered as the award-winning biographer of such famous figures as J. R. R. Tolkien, Ezra Pound, and W. H. Auden. Attending the Dragon School at Oxford University, he earned an M.A. followed by a Dip.Ed., which he had pursued while considering a profession as a teacher. Instead of becoming an educator, however, he joined the British Broadcasting Corporation after university as a trainee in 1968. Carpenter soon proved himself a talented broadcaster and producer. He was a staff producer for BBC Radio Oxford during the early 1970s, becoming a freelance writer and broadcaster in 1975. Among the programs he worked on for the BBC as a freelancer were the show In Tune, for which he was a presenter, and Night Waves, which aired on Radio 3. He also enjoyed producing children's theater and was a prolific book reviewer for publications such as the Times Literary Supplement. Carpenter desired to be a successful novelist; however, he discovered his real talents lay in biography and children's stories. One of his most successful projects was Tolkien: A Biography (1977), for which he was able to draw on the resources of Tolkien's family, whose members he knew personally. A related book, The Inklings: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends (1979), received the Somerset Maugham Award. Other award winners produced by Carpenter were W. H. Auden: A Biography (1981), which was a Los Angeles Times best biography, earned the 1984 E. M. Forster Award, and was nominated for the Whitbread Award; A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound (1988), which won the Duff Cooper Prize; and Benjamin Britten, which received the Royal Philharmonic Society Award. During the 1980s and 1990s Carpenter wrote a popular series of children's books featuring a friendly wizard named Mr. Majeika. In addition to his biographies, he edited two collections of Tolkien's letters, published two surveys of children's literature with his wife, Mari Prichard, and more recently published That Was Satire, That Was: Beyond The Fringe, The Establishment Club, Private Eye, That Was the Week That Was (2000) and The Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s (2002). When not writing or working on the radio, Carpenter pursued music interests and was founder of the band Vile Bodies, which performed music from the 1920s and 1930s. His later years were troubled by Parkinson's disease, though his output remained prolific until the end.


OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Daily Telegraph (London, England), January 5, 2005.

Guardian (London, England), January 5, 2005, p. 21.

Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2005, p. B11.

New York Times, January 19, 2005, p. C17.

Times (London, England), January 6, 2005, p. 61.

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