Herbert Dyson Carter

Herbert Dyson Carter, scientist, political activist, writer (born 2 February 1910 in Saint John, NB; died 1996 in Gravenhurst, ON).

Herbert Dyson Carter, scientist, political activist, writer (born 2 February 1910 in Saint John, NB; died 1996 in Gravenhurst, ON). The child of social activists, Herbert Dyson Carter spent his childhood in the reform schools where his parents worked. His early experiences had a profound impact on his political views and his writing later in life, particularly the semi-autobiographical This Story Fierce and Tender (1986) which contains strong pro-Soviet language and imagery. Carter studied chemistry, receiving his M.Sc. from the University of Manitoba in 1933. He worked as a university lecturer, a researcher and an engineering consultant in addition to his career as a writer. Carter's writing has a decidedly communist tone and his writing espouses what he viewed as its social and cultural benefits. Carter's support for the party waned in the late 1980s with the introduction of Gorbachev's reforms. Despite this, he remained an advocate of communism.

Herbert Dyson Carter's writing spread across various genres. He wrote fiction, non-fiction and biography, all of which promoted the communist movement in Canada. His work often compared Canada and the Soviet Union, particularly in terms of social justice and the promotion of equality. In Sea of Destiny (1940) Carter suggests Canada's North is susceptible to Nazi invasion and the best way to avoid such an attack would be to increase ties with the Soviet Union. Writing sometimes under the alias Warren Desmond, Carter published several works of fiction including Night of Flame (1942), a novel of class conflict set in a hospital that outlines the corrupting nature of capitalism. Carter also penned a short biography of Soviet leader Josef Stalin - Stalin's Life (1943) - that highly praises the ruler. In addition to writing, Carter's contributions to literature in Canada extended to editing and publishing. For 6 years (1950-1956) he served as editor for the Canadian-Soviet Friendship Society's News-Facts About the USSR newsletter, as well as publishing the popular pro-Soviet magazine Northern Neighbours (1956-1989). Though a prolific writer, Herbert Dyson Carter does not appear alongside his contemporaries in major reference books on Canadian literature. This exclusion may be the result of Carter's political views, which were deemed highly controversial during the Cold War.

In addition to being an active member of the Communist Party of Canada, Herbert Dyson Carter also served as president of the Canadian-Soviet Friendship Society from 1949-1960. Carter was honoured by the USSR: he was awarded the Lenin Centenary Medal (1970), the Order of Friendship of the Peoples (1980) and the Order of the Union of Friendship Societies (1985).

See also: ​Social ClassMarxism.

Further Reading

  • Jennifer Anderson, "The Pro-Soviet Message in Words and Images: Dyson Carter and Canadian 'Friends' of the USSR," Journal of the Canadian Historical Association (2007) 179-206; James Doyle, "Science, Literature and Revolution: The Life and Writings of Dyson Carter," Left History (Fall 1997) 7-29