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Very Private Eye

Very Private Eye

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Paperback / softback



Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781529091946
Number of Pages: 528
Published: 05/10/2023
Width: 13 cm
Height: 19.7 cm

‘Barbara Pym is one of my most favourite novelists. Few other writers have given me more laughter and more pleasure’ - Jilly Cooper

‘I'm a huge fan of Barbara Pym’ - Richard Osman

‘Could one write a book based on one’s diaries over thirty years? I certainly have enough material,’ wrote
Barbara Pym. This book, selected from the diaries, notebooks and letters of this much-loved novelist to form a continuous narrative, is indeed a unique autobiography, providing a privileged insight into a writer’s mind. It includes a forward from bestselling author – and Barbara Pym fan – Jilly Cooper.

Philip Larkin wrote that Barbara Pym had ‘a unique eye and ear for the small poignancies of everyday life’. Her autobiography amply demonstrates this, as it traces her life from exuberant times at Oxford in the thirties, through the war when, scarred by an unhappy love affair, she joined the WRNS, to the published novelist of the fifties. It also deals with the long period when her novels were out of fashion and no one would publish them, her rediscovery in 1977, and the triumphant success of her last few years.

It is now possible to describe a place, situation or person as ‘very Barbara Pym’. A Very Private Eye, at once funny and moving, shows the variety and depth of her own story.

Praise for A Very Private Eye:

‘It increases the understanding and enjoyment of her novels enormously’ - Auberon Waugh, Daily Mail

‘The perfect complement to the fiction’ - Paul Bailey, The Observer

‘Her sharp and very private eye never failed her’ Victoria Glendinning, The New York Times

Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym (1913–1980) was a British novelist best known for her series of satirical novels on English middle-class society. A graduate of St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, Pym published the first of her nine novels, Some Tame Gazelle, in 1950, followed by five more books. Despite this early success and continuing popularity, Pym went unpublished from 1963 to 1977. Her work was rediscovered after a famous article in The Times Literary Supplement in which two prominent names, Lord David Cecil and Philip Larkin, nominated Pym as the most underrated writer of the century. Her comeback novel, Quartet in Autumn, was nominated for the Booker Prize.

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