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Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was a key figure in the Surrealist movement and an artist of remarkable individuality. She was born to a wealthy English family in 1917, expelled from two convents as a girl, and presented to the king’s court in 1933. Four years later, she ran off with Max Ernst and became a darling of the art world in Paris: serving guests hair omelets at one party, arriving naked to another. After Ernst was taken from their home to a Nazi internment camp in 1940, Carrington fled France. Nearly mad with grief and terror, she was thrown into a lunatic asylum in Spain, and, after escaping, married a Mexican diplomat, fleeing Europe for New York City then Mexico City, where she lived for the rest of her life. Throughout her long career, Carrington published novels, stories, and plays, in addition to making paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.

Kathryn Davis is the author of seven novels, the most recent of which is Duplex (2013). Her other books are Labrador (1988), The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf (1993), Hell: A Novel (1998), The Walking Tour (1999), Versailles (2002), and The Thin Place (2006). She has received a Kafka Prize for fiction by an American woman, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2006, she won the Lannan Foundation Literary Award. She is the senior fiction writer in the MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis.

pages: 232

format: paperback

isbn: 978-0-9973666-4-8

publication date: April 2017

The Complete Stories

Leonora Carrington

“This definitive collection of Carrington’s short fiction is a treasure and a gift to the world. A stunning achievement.”
Jeff VanderMeer

Introduction by Kathryn Davis

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Surrealist writer and painter Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was a master of the macabre, of gorgeous tableaus, biting satire, roguish comedy, and brilliant, effortless flights of the imagination. Nowhere are these qualities more ingeniously brought together than in the works of short fiction she wrote throughout her life.

Published to coincide with the centennial of her birth, The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington collects for the first time all of her stories, including several never before seen in print. With a startling range of styles, subjects, and even languages (several of the stories are translated from French or Spanish), The Complete Stories captures the genius and irrepressible spirit of an amazing artist’s life.

Concurrent with The Complete Stories, the NYRBooks will be publishing Carrington’s memoir Down Below and her children’s book The Milk of Dreams.


Read about Leonora Carrington and her work at The London Review of Books and The Guardian, or check out our own Joanna Walsh on Carrington here.


“Leonora Carrington has unswervingly followed the intensity of her own particular vision and way of being . . . Her work bristles with a fierce, unconventional brand of feminism; anger gives it its final edge of irony and power.” Angela Carter

“Her delirious fantasy reveals to us a little of the secret magic of her paintings.” Luis Buñuel

“The writing is as neat, dry and witty as the content is wild, woolly and portentous.” TLS

“This is the best description of what it feels like to read her work: In the middle of the fluffy fairy tale, something bristles, something unpleasantly familiar, something human and frightening.” Parul Sehgal, New York Times Sunday Book Review

“Carrington’s stories are optimistic and nihilistic, beautiful and grotesque, tender and cruel. She never contented herself with something simple or trite, a philosophy of life that can be shortened and simplified and put in a fortune cookie.” Sheila Heti

“Her stories are vivid, funny and surprisingly fresh . . . [combining] satire with surrealist situations to deftly mock the pomposity of organized religion, sexual repression or the endless forms of bureaucratic hypocrisy and ineptitude.” New York Times

Complete Stories, a collection of Carrington’s published and unpublished short stories — many newly translated from their original French and Spanish — is a terrific introduction to her bizarre, dreamlike worlds.” Carmen Maria Machado, NPR

“Leonora Carrington’s The Complete Stories is a near perfect book, two hundred or so pages of surreal stories and sketches that follow a logic all their own. If you could eat the food in a Renaissance painting, I imagine it would taste like this reads: sumptuous, sweet, and warm.” Brian Ransom, The Paris Review Staff’s Favorite Books of 2018

“The collection is, in a word, stunning. With hints of fairy tale and myth, dream and surrealism, the stories defy categorization, unfolding with a deceptive normalcy and measured tone, a matter-of-fact plain-spokenness even as reality bends and shimmers.” Robert Wiersema, Toronto Star

“A menagerie of eccentric humans, bloodthirsty talking animals, and hybrid creatures is on display in her fantastic, and fantastical, collection of stories.” Publishers Weekly

“Carrington’s prose is precise and droll, even when translated from French or Spanish. Her best stories glory in fantastic rebellion against gender constructs and class even as they tend toward shock and tragedy . . . a key work in the history of literary weirdness.” Kirkus Reviews

“In both her prose and her visual art, Carrington dissolves the borders between human and inhuman, fantasy and reality, death and life. In ‘The Complete Stories’ we meet a mad queen who uses squirming live sponges to wash herself; a corpse that casts a circle of light in the forest; and a horse-woman who lives among plants and animals because humans won’t accept her hybrid state. Whenever Carrington’s heroines are forced to pledge allegiance, they always choose the company of beasts.” Joy Press, Los Angeles Times

“Kathryn Davis’s wonderful introduction to this complete collection (published in conjunction with the centennial of Carrington’s birth) is a satisfying piece on its own, delightedly preparing the reader for a writer bestowed with a satisfying mix of the most wicked yet tender of visions.” Jennifer Christie, Entropy

“The British-born Carrington, who in her youth moved to Paris and befriended the Surrealists, is perhaps better known as a painter of dreamlike tableaus in which wild-maned, wispy androgynes consort with half-human beasts and spindly plant life. Yet prose makes available to Carrington a wry deadpan that painting does not—these stories are funny.” Sarah Resnick, BOMB

The Complete Stories and Down Below are both remarkable books; read together they are almost overwhelming. The Carrington centennial should stand as one of the great literary events of 2017. I know that I will be pressing these books on friends, family, and acquaintances for years to come.” Matthew Keeley,

“Carrington’s writing is a hellish playground, and being doomed by her turns out to be a lot of fun.” Nathan Scott McNamara, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Her protagonists speak to gods, monsters, parents, and strangers in the same fearlessly ironic voice. Irrational or horrible things happen to people in these stories just as they do in fairy tales, dreams, the Bible, and real life. Intending to destroy dualistic viewpoints, Carrington offers no glib moral judgments.” The Village Voice

“To understand the macho, egocentric nature of Surrealism and the eliding of women artists of this time, you need look no further than the fiercely imaginative and belatedly recognized artist Leonora Carrington.” Elisa Wouk Almino, Hyperallergic

“Carrington’s stories take dream-like turns on the backs of all kinds of creatures: a happy corpse, a camel of sand, a cow-faced mother! Her language is taut and pleasing to the ear. At once fleshy and fantastical, strange and affecting, this collection dazzled me silly.” Staff Pick by Kristen, McNally Jackson Books

“A Surrealist painter and fabulist, she wrote 25 fantastical and droll stories in English, Spanish and French — stories that blend the lure of a fairy tale with elements unpleasantly familiar and frightening.” New York Times “12 New Books We Recommend This Week”


cover art:

Self-Portrait by Leonora Carrington (ca. 1937-38. Oil on canvas. 25 9/16 x 32 in. © 2016 Estate of Leonora Carrington / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)