Barbara Pym

After studying English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, Barbara Pym served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service during World War II. From 1950 to 1961, she published six novels, but her 7th was declined by the publisher due to a change in the reading public’s tastes.

The turning point for Pym came with a famous article in the 1975 Times Literary Supplement in which two prominent names, Lord David Cecil, and Philip Larkin, nominated her as the most underrated writer of the century. Pym and Larkin had kept up a private correspondence over a period of many years. Her comeback novel, Quartet in Autumn, was nominated for the Booker Prize. Another novel, The Sweet Dove Died, previously rejected by many publishers, was subsequently published to critical acclaim, and several of her previously unpublished novels were published after her death.

Books in order of publication:


Some Tame Gazelle (1950)

Excellent Women (1952)

Jane and Prudence (1953)

Less than Angels (1955)

A Glass of Blessings (1958)

No Fond Return of Love (1961)

Quartet in Autumn (1977)

The Sweet Dove Died (1978)

A Few Green Leaves (1980)

An Unsuitable Attachment (written 1963; published posthumously, 1982)

Crampton Hodnet (completed circa 1940, published posthumously, 1985)

An Academic Question (written 1970–72; published posthumously, 1986)

Civil to Strangers (written 1936; published posthumously, 1987)

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