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The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym (Paperback)Paula Byrne (author)
A fascinating account of one of the supreme British female humorists reveals how the author of Excellent Women and Jane and Prudence went largely unheralded in her lifetime, her comedic genius only recognised by a few high-profile fans who kept her flame alive.
A brilliant, intimate biography of English writer Barbara Pym.
She was Pym to friends. Miss Pym in her diaries. Sandra in seduction mode. Pymska at her most sophisticated.
English novelist Barbara Pym's career was defined, in many senses, by rejection. Her first novel Some Tame Gazelle was turned down by every publisher she sent it out in 1935, finally published only fifteen years later. Though she picked up a publisher from there and received modest praise, the publishing industry grew restless and her sales spiralled downwards. By her seventh novel she had been dropped. She was deemed old-fashioned, telling stories of little English villages, unrequited love and the social dramas of vicars or academics.
This brilliant biography, brimming with Pym's private diaries and intimate letters, offers a first full insight into Barbara Pym's life and how it informed her writing. It gallops through her love affairs and lifelong relationships. It opens a door to the quick-draw humour which lives in her every written line. It shows how, with a little help from her most ardent fans and friends including Philip Larkin, her work eventually resurfaced, meeting new readers and bringing her sudden astounding, resounding love and acclaim - in the last years of her life.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Number of pages: 704
Weight: 520 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 44 mm
'Byrne's comprehensive biography... is unlikely to be bettered... This is an elegant, incisive and sympathetic biography that deepens our understanding of Pym ... Byrne succeeds admirably' - Literary Review
'Engrossing... The chapters are enticingly short, and I romped through them. Each adds a vital piece of the jigsaw, explaining the provenance of her fictional characters and building up our understanding of [her] state of mind... It's a delight to meet her again in these pages' - The Times
'Light-hearted and lively... Byrne is an excellent literary detective, tracing acquaintances directly into the novels. The author seems to have been as fun, clever and kind as her best creations' - Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times
'Illuminating... Byrne sees what fun Pym was, how much she liked and was fascinated by people... and has done us a great service in exploring this very unusual personality... This, like its subject's best books, rewards reading and re-reading' - Spectator
'Both hilarious and heartbreaking... Byrne is beautifully savvy about her subject's fiction... as a manifesto for her genius, it is gloriously persuasive' - Daily Telegraph
'Byrne's book is outstanding... Just like a Pym novel, this biography is warm, funny, unexpected and deeply moving' - Financial Times
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“Barbara Pym Biography”
I was somewhat disappointed in this book. It was much too long and padded with sections from her novels which I felt were not relevant in a biographical piece. Yes, one or two but not the number within this work.... More
“A lively biography full of fascinating detail”
Paula Byrne’s witty, picaresque chapter headings and jaunty style channel Barbara Pym’s own joie de vivre, her quirky sense of humour and her ability to transmute the everyday and the commonplace, ‘the trivia of the... More
“An outstanding biography of a wonderful author”
Paula Byrne does a brilliant job of bringing Barbara Pym to life in this engrossing 'warts-and-all' biography. Pym has enjoyed another resurgence in popularity in recent years with the Virago reprints of her... More
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