Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Joyce Cary - an Irish writer in New Cross

Well it's the day after St. Patrick's Day, so a good time to note that the Irish writer Joyce Cary (1888-1957) spent a key period of his childhood in New Cross, and indeed Nunhead.

Cary is probably best-known today for his novel The Horse's Mouth (1944) made into a film starring Alec Guinness. Cary lived with his family at 41 Kitto Road SE14 from 1897 to 1901, after a spell at his first London home at 11 Ivydale Road. He also attended Haberdashers’ Askes Hatcham Boys’ School in Pepys Road during this period.

The house in Kitto Road was on the corner of Waller Road opposite the Church and 'was bombed and then demolished, on 6 January 1945' (Fisher, 1996). Cary’s mother died suddenly from pneumonia while he was living there in 1898. A biographer suggests that ‘Being opposite the Methodist Chapel, it becomes a likely source of inspiration for the lonely death of Chester’s mother, when her eldest son Richard is ten’ in Cary's novel ‘Except the Lord’ (Fisher, 1996).

Sources: The House as Symbol: Joyce Cary and ‘The Turkish House’ – Barbara Fisher 1996;
Joyce Cary Remembered – Barbara Fisher, 1988.

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