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Barbara Pym entry: Overview screen.
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Overview
Writing
Life
Writing and Life
Timeline
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Barbara Pym was a distinguished, understatedly comic novelist of the twentieth century, whose autobiographical writings (diaries, letters, and notebooks) were published only after her death. Bibliographic Citation link. Having achieved moderate success during her early career and then fallen out of favour, she was dramatically rediscovered and re-evaluated only three years before her death. Since then her stock has been high, despite a touch of condescension evidenced in her being seen as a miniaturist and novelist of manners, and likened to Jane Austen. She is also related to such contemporaries as Ivy Compton-Burnett (her senior) and Margaret Drabble and Penelope Lively (her juniors). Her fiction focusses on middle-class, unmarried women constrained to live on the margins of society. It is unfailingly sensitive to the more ludicrous aspects of gender conventions. Lively argues that "what is going on is not tart observation of social manoeuvrings but a devastating, sublimely unfair, wonderfully funny and ultimately fatalistic analysis of the relations between men and women." Bibliographic Citation link.
Milestones
2 June 1913 BP was born at her parents' first home, 72 Willow Street, in Oswestry, Shropshire. Bibliographic Citation link.
April 1922 BP, not yet nine, gave a home performance with her sister and cousins of her own fairytale operetta, "The Magic Diamond". Bibliographic Citation link.
15 September 1977 BP published her first novel in sixteen years, the highly successful Quartet in Autumn. Bibliographic Citation link.
November 1977 BP's Quartet in Autumn was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Bibliographic Citation link.
11 January 1980 BP died of ovarian cancer shortly after she was admitted to Michael Sobel House, a hospice attached to the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. Bibliographic Citation link.
By 15 July 1980 BP's novel A Few Green Leaves appeared posthumously; it was the last book that she worked at, finishing it shortly before her death, and has been widely regarded as a farewell. Bibliographic Citation link.
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