Barbara Pym

Barbara Mary Crampton Pym (2 June 1913 – 11 January 1980) was an English writer.

She studied at Queen’s Park School, in Oswestry, and attended Huyton College, near Liverpool. She then studied English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. During World War II, Pym served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. After the war, she worked at the International African Institute in London, and was the assistant editor for the scholarly journal Africa.

Pym died of breast cancer, aged 66.


  • Pym was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1979;
  • Quartet in Autumn (1977) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.



  • 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 (written circa 1940, published posthumously, 1985)
  • An Academic Question (written 1970–72; published posthumously, 1986)
  • Civil to Strangers (written 1936; published posthumously, 1987)


  • A Very Private Eye (1985, Pym’s diaries)

About her

  • A Lot to Ask: A Life of Barbara Pym, by Hazel Holt (1990)
  • No Soft Incense: Barbara Pym and the Church, ed. by Hazel K Bell  (2004)

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