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Barbara Pym Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Some Tame Gazelle (1950)Description / Buy at Amazon
Excellent Women (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Jane and Prudence (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Less Than Angels (1955)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Glass of Blessings (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
No Fond Return of Love (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
Quartet in Autumn (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sweet Dove Died (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Few Green Leaves (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Unsuitable Attachment (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Crampton Hodnet (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Academic Question (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Civil to Strangers and Other Writings (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

A Very Private Eye (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Places: An Anthology of Britain(1981)Description / Buy at Amazon

About Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym was a highly-acclaimed British novelist renowned for creating witty social comedies. Even back in the 1950s, she was well-regarded in literary circles with her celebrated works ‘Excellent Women’ (1952) and ‘A Glass of Blessings’ (1958).

Then, in 1977, her career was revitalized when Lord David Cecil and the eminent poet Philip Larkin both named her the most underrated writer of the century. This recognition was solidified when Pym was nominated for the Booker Prize that same year for her novel ‘Quartet in Autumn.’ Eventually, she was appointed as Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Pym was renowned for her unique writing style, which enabled her to bring her characters to life in an engaging and entertaining fashion. Yet what made her literary works truly compelling was her masterful narrative structure. Her stories were filled with such warmth and poignancy that they would continue to captivate readers of all ages to this day. This is why Barbara Pym’s body of work remains some of the most cherished literature of its era.

Early and Personal Life

Barbara Mary Crampton Pym was born on June 2nd, 1913 to Irena and Frederic Pym in Oswestry, Shropshire. From an early age, she was especially encouraged to pursue her creative talent, even staging a play for friends and family at age nine. With high marks in her schooling, Barbara headed to Oxford to study English. It was there that she struck up a relationship with literary mentor Robert Liddell.

In the 1930s, Barbara traveled extensively around the world. During a trip to Germany, she enjoyed the culture, but this admiration soon changed with the war. She even severed ties with her one time Nazi officer partner, Friedbert Gluck. In 1939, Barbara was offered a publishing job, but this was soon put on hold with the outbreak of WWII. Instead, she spent time at a Censorship department in Bristol.

When 1946 came around, Barbara moved to London with her sister Hilary to begin her job as Assistant Editor for Africa magazine. She never married or had children, but Barbara did have several close relationships throughout her lifetime. Sadly, she passed away from breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 66.

After her death, Barbara’s work was eventually published and the Barbara Pym Society was founded in 1993. Barn Cottage, her former residence, was later honored with a blue plaque in 2006, acting as a memorial to her life.

Writing Career

Barbara Pym began her literary venture by submitting her first novel, ‘Some Tame Gazelle,’ but it was rejected by both Gollancz and Jonathan Cape. Nevertheless, she continued and her next work, ‘Civil to Strangers’ (written in 1936) and other novellas, would later be published as one piece after her passing. Her next work, ‘Crampton Hodnet,’ submitted in 1940, was also published posthumously.

Following significant rewrites and revisions, ‘Some Tame Gazelle’ was finally published by Jonathan Cape in 1950. Her book, ‘Excellent Women,’ was released in 1952 and received glowing reviews. 1953’s ‘Jane and Prudence,’ however, had a far more mixed response.

‘Less than Angels’ was Barbara Pym’s fourth book which debuted in 1955 but had less success than the earlier three. Despite weaker sales, it still earned numerous admirers and was printed in the United States. This was then followed by ‘A Glass of Blessings’ in 1958, a novel which featured non-heteronormative characters and generated some considerable interest, going against the grain when homosexuality was frowned upon.

Her sixth work, ‘No Fond Return of Love,’ was not a great commercial success, so Pym attempted to amend her style – one which was deemed not to meet the standards of publishers. Over the next 17 years she wrote two more works – ‘The Sweet Dove Died’ and ‘An Academic Question,’ both of which were unable to find a publisher.

However, in 1977 a fortuitous review in the Times Literary Supplement which called her the most underrated writer, set her on her way, with Lord David Cecil and Philip Larkin touring her work. Her final novel, ‘A Few Green Leaves,’ was published in 1980 and although the majority of her writing happened posthumously, Barbara Pym had an immense effect on the world of literature.

Excellent Women

In 1952, Barbara Pym published her second novel, ‘Excellent Women,’ via the publisher Jonathan Cape. The book was highly acclaimed at the time, being tightly constructed and acclaimed for its sharp dialogue and witty observations of social life in 1950’s England. Pym’s work would go on to become a timeless favorite among British comedy novels.

Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman’s daughter and spinster living in 1950s England. Despite her lack of fuss and restraint to her own desires, Mildred is still an ‘excellent woman.’ When her new neighbors Helena Napier, Rocky, and vicar Julian Malory move in next to her, Mildred is brought into their lives and presented with a glimpse of human life as truly lived with reserved desires. Her adventures through the timeless era of etiquette and manners are truly inspiring.

This classic by Barbara Pym is sure to inspire readers of all ages. ‘Excellent Women’ continues to make readers laugh, cry, and cheer as Mildred Lathbury navigates her neighbors’ lives during 1950s England. The sharp dialogue and keen observations create an intimate portrait of human desires shared between the characters throughout this timeless novel. With complex characters and a good balance of wit and emotion, this is a must read for those seeking a good laugh at life itself.

A Few Green Leaves

Barbara Pym published her historical comedy novel, ‘A Few Green Leaves,’ in 1980 with the well-known publishing house Macmillan. This was to be her last published novel, before her death in 1980. This lighthearted and witty work proved to be a beloved novel among fans of Pym’s work.

Pym’s last work, A Few Green Leaves, offers readers a deep glimpse into Oxfordshire village life. Through alternating between multiple perspectives, the novelist illustrated the stark contrast between the area’s observed history and its current state. Through historical references like the Druid ruins, the 18th century manor and its final aristocratic owners from the 1920s, Pym poignantly showcased the influence of time.

Furthermore, this book was a sign of her excellence as it contained many of the themes and characters that appeared in her later works. Ultimately, A Few Green Leaves is sure to be heralded as her signature masterpiece.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Barbara Pym

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