A Very Private Eye

An Autobiography in Diaries and Letters

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‘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.

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 rediscovering 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.

About Barbara Pym

A writer from the age of sixteen, Barbara Pym has been acclaimed as ‘the most underrated writer of the century’ (Philip Larkin). Pym’s substantial reputation evolved through the publication of six novels from 1950 to 1961, then resumed in 1977 with the publication of Quartet in Autumn and three other novels. She died in 1980.

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Books by Barbara Pym

Quartet in Autumn
Quartet in Autumn
A Few Green Leaves
A Few Green Leaves
The Sweet Dove Died
The Sweet Dove Died
An Unsuitable Attachment
An Unsuitable Attachment