Humphrey William Bouverie Carpenter (April 29, 1946 – January 4, 2005) was an English biographer, author, and radio broadcaster, known for writing J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography and editing The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.


Carpenter was born, died, and lived practically all of his life, in the city of Oxford. His father was the Rt. Rev. Harry James Carpenter. His mother was Urith Monica Trevelyan, who had training in the Froebel teaching method. As a child, he lived in the Warden's Lodgings at Keble College, Oxford, where his father served as Warden until his appointment as Bishop of Oxford. On leaving the Dragon School in Oxford, Humphrey studied at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, but returned to study English at Keble. During his appointment at BBC Radio Oxford, Humphrey met his future wife, Mari Prichard (whose father was Caradog Prichard, the Welsh novelist and poet); they became married in 1973. His notable output of biographies included: J. R. R. Tolkien (1977) (also editing of The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien), The Inklings (1978), W. H. Auden (1981), Ezra Pound (1988), Evelyn Waugh (1989), Benjamin Britten (1992), Robert Runcie (1997), and Spike Milligan (2004).

He also wrote histories of BBC Radio 3 (on which he had regular stints as broadcaster), the British satire boom of the 1960s, Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s (2002), and a centennial history of the Oxford University Dramatic Society in 1985. His Mr Majeika series of children's books enjoyed considerable popularity and were successfully adapted for television. His encyclopedic work The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature (1984), written jointly with his wife Mari Prichard, has become a standard reference source.

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