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Noel Carter Remembers Lin Carter

Recently, I received a letter from Noel Vreeland Carter in which she describes her life as Lin Carter's wife.
--Ken, Jan. 6, 2001

Lin Carter photo

My Life with Lin Carter

by Noel Vreeland Carter

Lin and I met on November 19, 1962 at Prentice Hall in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey where we both worked, I (NoŽl Vreeland Carter) at my first job out of college (age 21), and Lin, 31 at the time, in the advertising department. We were married in the home we bought together in Hollis, New York, on August 17, 1963.

Lin was scratched in a minor accident in Korea, was entitled to a purple heart as a "wounded" soldier, but NEVER limped, except in the course of twisting an ankle occasionally as we all do. He spent his year in Korea behind the front lines in the typing pool, since he could fire a typewriter the way some people can fire a machine gun. He was made a Corporal. He had one week on the front lines at the beginning of his tour and one at the end of it. He spent his R&R in Japan.

He had attended cartoonist school in Florida, and with his GI Bill money, Lin attended Columbia in the 50s with no intention of ever graduating. He never even matriculated. He wanted to take classes with Moses Haddas and the great professors of the era, and did so until his money ran out. He felt he had gotten a great education in the areas that interested him, and that was enough. He was an Episcopalian originally but was an atheist and an individualist, and lived by his own rules in ways that pertained to himself.

The Myth you have mentioned of his walking with a limp may arise from the fact that he collected and carried walking sticks to all the conventions he attended. (I have deleted any reference to a limp in my essay. It was an assumption based on the cane that I saw him carrying.--Ken) This "style" of his arose from an incident prior to a NY con in the late 60s when I had sprained my ankle, and used a Victorian ladies' walking stick to help me get around. The attention I got was a bit much for Lin to swallow and he decided to collect walking sticks himself. I suggested that he use them as a trademark at conventions, which he did. Perhaps in later years, after I had been long out of his life except to keep in touch, he did need one to walk with, but I was never aware of such a need.

He may have become frail in his last years, but until he was in his 40s and early 50s at least, he stood 5' 11" and weighed about 150 pounds, so he was tall and slender, with a regrettable tendency to stoop his shoulders.

Lin smoked at least two packs of cigarettes and about 9 cups of abominably strong coffee a day. I used to beg him to cut down on both, but he never did, and I am certain that both habits contributed to his early demise. He never used drugs since he considered his mind his great strength, and wanted to keep it sane and unabused. He evidently started drinking in his late years, but while we were married it was wine with dinner, and drinks out with friends, but never to excess, and always in company.

Lin was a successful advertising man, but when his group was fired for an unsuccessful Wolfschmidt's Vodka ad campaign, I suggested he do what he had always wanted -- just come home and write full time. It was out of that rather risky time that he wrote and sold Tolkien, a Look Behind the Lord of the Rings, and began editing the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series for Betty & Ian Ballantine.

Actually, as far as money is concerned, we lived very well in a nine-room house crammed with books, antiques, art, and animals. We gave several large parties a year as well as several smaller ones, traveled to various cons -- World Cons and Philcon, Balticon, etc every year for a decade or more, and gave a party in our hotel room or suite at each con. We lived rather high on the hog, to use a cliche, and while money could be tight at times after he quit advertising to write full time, we lived very well indeed. How Lin lived after I left may be a different story. But from 1963 to 1974, with some financial ups and downs, we lived a rather extravagant life.

Among the wonderful things about Lin was his deep love of animals -- especially dogs. We had eight of our own and took in countless strays, which we fed, brought to good health, and found homes for. We also had birds, a snake, gerbils, hamsters, a guinea pig, rabbits, a skunk, and sundry other critters over the years of our marriage.

Lin was a flawed but brilliant man. The books he wrote cannot begin to indicate the knowledge in a mind packed with the reading of more than of twenty thousand books over the course of his lifetime. He read history, biography, great and mediocre literature, archaeology.

Lin should have lived longer, and contributed more. He would have become just what Hannes Bok predicted in a horoscope reading that he did for Lin -- he would have become one of the grand old men of Science Fantasy.

After Lin got over the bitterness he felt at my ending our marriage, we kept in touch. During his last few years we corresponded frequently.

As far as his interment is concerned, his ashes reside behind a 19th century book on Ancient Egypt in my home, awaiting that time when I either have them buried in his parents grave in Florida, or I decide that I will have him interred with me in my family plot. I suspect it will be the latter alternative, hopefully some time very far in the future.

NoŽl Vreeland Carter,
posted: Jan. 6, 2001.

A Few Words About Noel Carter

Noel Carter is currently an editor for an educational publisher. She is also an author with six books to her credit--all of which seem to have some fantastic influence or atmosphere to them. Most of her works are difficult to find today, but some are still available to the diligent searcher. Her published books are:

  1. THE LAZARUS CURSE. Popular Library. 1975.
  2. THE LAZARUS INHERITANCE. Popular Library. 1976.
  3. MOONDRAGON. Signet/NAL. 1979.
  4. THIS BAND OF SPIRITS. (very hard to find)
  5. MISS HUNGERFORD'S HANDSOME HERO (a regency romance)
  6. THE MOONCALF MURDERS. Walker & Co. 1989. (hardback)

Noel mentioned that she also has a play: DEATH SAID THE JADE PRINCESS that is currently unpublished and unproduced. The title piques my curiosity, and I hope she manages to find a publisher/producer for it. --Ken, 1/15/2001

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