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English writer Barbara Pym (1913-1980) was a Booker Prize nominated author who has been called the most underrated writer of the 20th century. Her works are frequently held to be light comedies that reflect certain aspect of English society, but contain deep insight into the human condition.
Barbara Pym's Life
Facts about Barbara Pym's life:
- Born in Shropshire, England
- Studied English at St. Hilda's College at Oxford
- Was in the Woman's Royal Naval Service during World War II.
- Assistant editor of the anthropological journal Africa
- Pym was a keen observer of human behavior, publishing her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle, in 1950
However, her publisher began rejecting her work in 1961, calling it old fashioned. Pym then stopped writing from 1963 to 1977. In that year, Lord David Cecil and poet Phillip Larkin called her the most underrated writer of the 20th century in the Times Literary Supplement, leading to her comeback novel Quartet in Autumn. However, even with the support of these individuals, Pym had a difficult time finding a publisher for her work.
Barbara Pym's Gay Characters
Pym was one of the first to write sympathetically about openly gay characters, and much of her work deals with unrequited feelings, drawn from her personal experience. Pym died of breast cancer at the age of 66 in 1980. Several of her books were then published posthumously, including An Unsuitable Attachment and An Academic Question.