A Very Private Eye

Barbara Pym

05 October 2023
528 pages


‘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

I’d sooner a new Barbara Pym than a new Jane Austen
Barbara Pym’s unpretentious, subtle, accomplished novels are for me the finest examples of high comedy to have appeared in England during the past seventy-five years . . . Spectacular

Barbara Pym has a sharp eye for the exact nuances of social