Joyce Cary (1888-1957) read law at Oxford University, worked with the Red Cross the Balkan Wars, and served in Nigeria and Cameroon during World War I. In 1920, Cary moved to Oxford, where he began writing short stories and novels. His first four novels, set in Africa, drew heavily from his experiences in Nigeria. Mister Johnson, published in 1939, is generally regarded as his greatest novel. Charley Is My Darling (1940), about displaced young people at the start of World War II, found a wide readership, and A House of Children (1941) won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for best novel. Cary also wrote a trilogy about an artist named Gulley Jimson; Herself Surprised (1941), To Be a Pilgrim (1942) and The Horse’s Mouth (1944), and, in the 1950s, a second trilogy: Prisoner of Grace, Except the Lord, and Not Honour More.
“The author, Charles Hoffmann, had access at the Bodleian Library to Cary’s personal papers, letters, notebooks, and rough drafts; this advantage has enabled Hoffmann to write exactly that kind of carefully annotated book which is most revealing in tracing the evolution of a subtle novelist’s craft. . . . Though the book illuminates Cary’s intentions and traces the continuity of his development, it is most provocative in its assertion that Cary’s work is in multiple aspects integrated with his concept of freedom.”—Books Abroad