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Barbara Pym (1913–1980)

Author of Excellent Women

Includes the names: Barbar Pym, Pym Barbara, Bárbara Pym, Barbara Pym Pym, Bárbara Pym

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Novelist Barbara Pym was born in Shropshire and educated at Oxford University. An editor of Africa, an anthropological review, for many years, she published her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle, in 1950. Since then, a number of popular works have been published. Often compared with the works of Jane Austen in both manner and subject, Pym's novels are apparently guileless evocations of the foibles of aging and isolated characters. She has a sure, if understated, sense of her characters' psychology and of their unintentionally comic revelations about themselves and their futile lives. After the publication of No Fond Return of Love (1961), all her books were out of print until she was cited, coincidentally by both David Cecil and Philip Larkin, as among the most underestimated novelists of the 20th century. She subsequently completed two successful novels, The Sweet Dove Died (1978) and Quartet in Autumn (1978), the latter a comic-pathetic study of two men and two women in their sixties who work in the same office but lead separate, lonely lives outside. Many of her earlier books have since been reprinted, including Excellent Women (1952) and A Glass of Blessings (1958), both perceptive psychological studies of aging women taken advantage of by others. A posthumous novel, A Few Green Leaves (1980), is a superb comedy of provincial village life. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from Excellent Women
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The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists (Contributor, some editions) 507 copies, 8 reviews
The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories (Contributor) 278 copies
The Penguin Book of Women's Humour (Contributor) 106 copies

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Barbara Mary Crampton Pym was born to Frederic and Irena Pym on June 2, 1913, in the town of Oswestry, Shropshire. S In 1931, Barbara entered St. Hilda's College at Oxford. In 1940, Barbara joined the Wrens (Women's Royal Naval Service), and in 1944, she was posted to Naples until the end of the war. After the war, Barbara took a job at the International African Institute in London, and soon became the assistant editor for the journal Africa. In 1971 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy; in 1974 she suffered a minor stroke. She then retired from the Institute and went to live with her sister Hilary. She died at the Michael Sobell House, a hospice in Oxford, on January 11, 1980. She is buried in the churchyard at Finstock.
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