01 June 2013
Meeting Miss Pym
So I may have been a little too young for my first date with Barbara in 2002. I checked out Crampton Hodnet from the library, and while I enjoyed the experience, I really didn't remember too much about it. But there must have been something about it since I picked up A Glass of Blessing five months later. I followed up in 2004 with Jane and Prudence, but it really wasn't until I read Some Tame Gazelle while in the south of France in 2009 that I really began to appreciate just how brilliant Barbara Pym's novels are. Since then I have read Excellent Women and The Sweet Dove Died and reread CH, AGoB and JaP. But that is a story best left for later this week.
Since Pym's publishing history is a bit odd to say the least, I thought it might be helpful to provide a list of her fiction. She had six novels published in the UK between 1950 and 1961. But then her publisher Jonathan Cape declined to publish her next two novels and so did everyone else. It wasn't until 1977 when both Lord David Cecil and Philip Larkin cited Pym as the an underrated author in a piece in the Times Literary Supplement. Pym was the only author to be mentioned twice and it thrust her work back into the spotlight and provided new publishing opportunities not only in the UK, but she was also published in the US for the first time.
Pym's Fiction in the order it was written...
Since the information varies from place to place, I have relied here on the publishing history in Hazel Holt's wonderful biography of Pym A Lot to Ask. Publishing dates are for first issue. Note how long it took some of her work to find its way to America. Anything after 1980 was published posthumously.
Some Tame Gazelle (Written 1935-50 / first published UK 1950 / first published US 1983)
Civil to Strangers (1936-8 / 1987 / 1987)
Crampton Hodnet (1937-8 / 1987 / 1987)
Excellent Women (1949-51 / 1952 / 1978)
Jane and Prudence (1950-2 / 1953 / 1981)
Less Than Angels (1953-4 / 1955 / 1980)
A Glass of Blessing (1955-6 / 1958 / 1980)
No Fond Return of Love (1957-60 / 1961 / 1982)
An Unsuitable Attachment (1960-5 / 1982 / 1982)
The Sweet Dove Died (1963-9 / 1978 / 1979)
An Academic Question (1970-1 / 1986 / 1986)
Quartet in Autumn (1973-6 / 1977 / 1978)
A Few Green Leaves (1977-9 / 1980 / 1980)