Joseph Lloyd Carr, a back-bedroom publisher of large maps and small books who, in old age, unexpectedly wrote six novels which, although highly thought of by a small band of supporters and by himself, were properly disregarded by the Literary World.
(A dictionary definition of himself, from an interview with Helen Simpson published in Vogue in May 1986, before he had published his last two novels)
These webpages provide details of all known editions or impressions of the novels of J.L. Carr printed in English in his life time and all the small books, illustrated maps and cards that he published from his house in Kettering between 1964 and 1994. I have also listed anything else I can find written by or about Carr. There is nothing official about these pages, it's just an attempt to bring the work of J.L. Carr to wider attention and help collectors to identify their books or maps.
There are omissions, as I may not have seen all impressions of the small books and maps, and there are probably errors too, as determining the order of publication is a matter of educated guesswork; most small books are not dated and few are numbered. You can find the basis of estimating which edition or impression came first in a section on dating Carr's small books. This site does not include editions of novels, small books or maps published since Carr's death in 1994, except for the small commemorative book.
J.L. Carr in 1992, taken by Drew Gardner. Used with permission.
Update on 11/8/2023: Added the 6th impression of the poems of John Clare, printed on grey paper, would you believe it.
Update on 27/7/2023: Added a link on the Radio and TV page to a recording on YouTube of the Booker prize award ceremony in 1985 which contains a short description by Carr of The Battle of Pollock's Crossing and a discussion of the book with John Carey, Germain Greer and Paul Theroux. Carr at: 1:16, 6:36 and 33:25.
Update on 22/9/2023: Added a lovely children's story contributed to a book of resource material for Primary school assemblies.
The main part of this bibliography describes and provides illustrations of:
All editions and impressions published in English of his eight novels, issued during his life time.
The eight stories written to help teach the English language to young children.
This section is for Carr's social history of the life of the first Europeans who settled on the plains of South Dakota, which is also listed under Histories, below.
A total of 102 titles of small books and four rare items published by Carr from his house in Kettering have been identified which are listed in the seven sections below, classified by type and coded, in all known editions and impressions:
The order in which these books were published is hard to know: they are mostly not dated, while Carr applied a partial numbering system retrospectively, and gave the same number to several titles. Dating Carr's small books is discussed here.
Carr's house in Kettering, with a Quince Tree in the front garden.
A total of 97 maps are known or suspected of England and Wales, Wales alone and of the 39 old counties of England, many in more than one edition, and there is a map of Beadle County, South Dakota. Eleven suspected maps have not been seen. A table of these maps can be found here.
These printed items are mostly related to churches and most are drawn and annotated by Carr. These are the most ephemeral of Carr's publications, and hardest to find.
This section describes the monumental undertaking that Carr called The Northamptonshire Record and presents a few examples of his paintings, some published drawings, and some pictures of his stone carvings.
These pages give details of the writings of J.L.Carr in:
The next section provides information about biographies and articles about J.L. Carr or his books.
This section is incomplete as reviews of Carr's books are hard to find, especially of his early novels. Readers are requested to provide details and, if possible, a scan of the item.
Slightly Foxed, an excellent quarterly magazine about obscure books and forgotten writers.
This section provides bibliographic information.
This section gives information about common means to identify Carr's books (except for ISBNs) and lists them in various orders for those of you who are really keen.
This section shows some printed ephemera and gives details of interviews, films and radio dramatisations of Carr's novels.
While developing this bibliography I have visited several archives where I have found information about Carr that may be interesting. You can find out more in these sections.
Carr comissioned Chris Fiddes to decorate many of his small books and other items.
A Biographical Companion to the Novels of J.L. Carr
I have nearly completed a Companion to the novels and other writings of J.L. Carr which identifies in nearly 900 alphabetically organised entries the events, people and places that he used in his novels, as they are largely biographical in nature. I hope to publish this soon, probably privately. Here is a sample entry entitled Barefoot Blonde.
The Quince Tree Press today
You can buy Carr's novels and some of his small books and maps through the web site of The Quince Tree Press. You will need to download, print, complete and send an order form with a cheque or pay using BACS. This is a direct link to the QTP order form. I don't get any commission by the way, I'm just happy to support a small independent publisher. You can find information about other sources of Carr's books, both small and large, on the novels page.
I thank Tim Dean for checking the pages on Carr's small books against his extensive collection, and for identifying errors.
Request for information
If you can add information, fill gaps or correct mistakes, please contact me. I will be pleased to acknowledge contributors.
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