Books and Book Sections

Ackley, Katherine Anne. "Proving One's Worth: The Importance of Marriage in the World of Barbara Pym." in Joinings and Disjoinings: The Significance of Marital Status in Literature. Eds. JoAnna Stephens Mink and Janet Doubler Ward. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green Popular Press, 1991. p.132-144.

The author explores Barbara Pym's views of marriage and the effect of social attitudes on unmarried women during the period in which she wrote. Pym's fiction reflects her own complex, ambiguous, and conflicting emotions about the institution of marriage. Male characters in her work regard themselves as superior, hence their relationships with women are difficult and unequal. The author suggests that ultimately Pym presents a lop-sided fictional world where women eagerly seek marriage but when they finally achieve it, often find it an unrewarding experience.

Adolph, Andrea. Food and Femininity in Twentieth-Century British Women's Fiction. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009.

Examines female fictional characters in the work of Barbara Pym, Angela Carter, Helen Dunmore, Helen Fielding, and Rachel Cusk. Adolph focuses on how women's relationship with food is used to locate their embodiment within everyday life. She describes a mind/body duality where female auto-objectification (body fascism) prevails. Adolph also notes consumption practices in contemporary British women’s fiction, particularly with respect to food and eating, which are factors of this mind/body disconnect that is supported by Western culture. She shows how this conflictive duality affects women in general. The author examines Pym's novel Jane and Prudence in this context.

Aging and Gender in Literature. Eds. Anne M. Wyatt-Brown and Janice Rossen. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1993.

The editors theorize that aging is a missing trope in contemporary literary theory. They contend that, like Western society, Anglo-American literature has been entirely ageist. Included in this collection are seventeen essays that discuss the issues of gender and aging in literature. These essays seek to show how aging affects literary creativity. Also examined is the manner in which writers had careers that developed differently after middle age. Included are comments about Barbara Pym's literary development particularly with reference to her later novel Quartet in Autumn.

Allen, Orphia Jane. Barbara Pym: Writing a Life. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1994.

Part 1 introduces all of Pym's novels, as well as fragments collected posthumously, in the order in which they were written, including some of the events of Pym's life and the public reception of her fiction. Part 2 is a study of ten of the novels. The focus is on some of the autobiographical elements that derive from Pym's literary concerns most particularly with romantic love, the Anglican Church, and her views on literature. Also presented are some of the techniques Pym used in transmuting these concerns into fiction. Part 3 is a bibliographic essay that summarizes the critical issues that have come to bear on her work. Part 4 is a comprehensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

Bachelder, Frances H. "Barbara Pym: Overview." in Reference Guide to English Literature. Ed. D. L. Kirkpatrick. 2nd ed. Chicago: St. James, 1991.

A general literary overview and critical analysis of some of Pym's novels including A Glass of Blessings, The Sweet Dove Died, Crampton Hodnet, and An Academic Question.

Brennan, Zoe. The Older Woman in Recent Fiction. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004.

A critical study that explores late twentieth-century fiction written by women. Includes Doris Lessing, May Sarton, and Barbara Pym, all of whom feature female protagonists over the age of sixty. These writers’ discourse on aging contrasts with largely pejorative attitudes that dominate Western society. Brennan presents the view that these novelists break the silence that normally surrounds the lives of the elderly. Investigates the way in which older female characters are represented with respect to such topics as sexuality, dependence, and everyday life functions. The book also has a chapter on Pym's novel Some Tame Gazelle.

Byatt, A. S. Passions of the Mind: Selected Writings. New York: Turtle Bay Books, 1992.

A collection of previously published essays and reviews (The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, etc.) that includes material from the Victorians to modern writers. Explores the relationship between the fictional narrative and religion. Byatt suggest that these writers vindicate the fictive form as the appropriate place to resolve the problem of “the real” in a post-religious world. The author finds Pym’s universe of “brown frocks, knitted socks in clerical grey, and cauliflower cheese” tainted by malice and narcissistic self-pity.

Cocking, Yvonne. Barbara In the Bodleian: Revelations From the Pym Archives. Oxford, UK: Barbara Pym Society, 2013.

A collection of essays that includes excerpts from Pym’s diaries and literary notebooks. Includes correspondence and press clippings. Focuses on the nine novels published during Pym’s lifetime. Some of the essays were presented at the Barbara Pym Society’s Annual General Meeting and Conference. The author was a friend and colleague of Pym’s at the International African Institute. Because of the author’s long research into Pym’s papers, these essays are particularly valuable.

Cooley, Mason. "Barbara (Mary Crampton) Pym." in British Writers: Supplement 2. Ed. George Stade. New York: Scribner's, 1992.

A balanced, interesting, and thorough review of Pym's life and work. Evaluates her novels and raises pertinent questions regarding such topics as Pym's religious life and her early view of herself as an unmarried woman.

---. The Comic Art of Barbara Pym. New York: AMS, 1991. AMS Studies in Modern Literature.

Cooley identifies the comic spirit in Barbara Pym's writing as the central and guiding element of her work, not simply as one aspect of it. He considers Pym's comedic quality to be essentially ironic, refined, and intellectual which offsets the general unhappiness of her heroines. Comedy does not eliminate their frustration, sadness, and suffering but it distances it, transforming it for the reader. Cooley's study shows how this comic spirit is interwoven into the melancholic in Pym's fiction. He argues that the comedy can be so subtle that it can be mistaken for realism. Even in her darkest most realistic novel Quartet in Autumn Pym's comedic voice is still evident in the quirky crankiness of her four elderly protagonists. In Pym's own life, a humorous perspective appears to have been a leavening agent for her own difficult personal experiences.

Dinnage, Rosemary. "Vicarage Passions: Barbara Pym." in Alone! Alone!: Lives of Some Outsider Women. New York: New York Review of Books, 2004. p.29-36.

Essay on the life and work of Barbara Pym. The author speculates about Pym's romantic involvements in relation to her diaries which the author contends only provide elusive information. She states that Pym in life, as well as in her writing, believed that women cannot be gratified or triumphant. Women are always betrayed by men. According to the author, Pym's own romantic relationships reflect an oddly negative continuum. She may have chosen these relationships knowing that they would ultimately be unsuccessful since she had an ambivalent attitude to marriage, apparent from an early age. It is implied that Pym sabotaged her own love interests.

Donato, Deborah. Reading Barbara Pym. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005.

Critical analysis that questions previous assumptions by which Barbara Pym's novels have been received and judged. Discusses four of Pym's novels: Quartet in Autumn, Some Tame Gazelle, Jane and Prudence and Excellent Women. Donato's premise is that Pym's novels may always support scholarship but what they require above all is a wider and continuing readership. She discusses Pym's essentially plotless novels and how Pym wrote of daily life as she observed it and with great humour. Donato states that many reviewers have missed the essence of Pym's writing.

Epstein, Joseph. Partial Payments: Essays On Writers and Their Lives. New York: Norton, 1991.

Epstein is considered a powerful intellectual, if something of a cultural polemicist, whose intention is to reform opinion and correct literary taste. Offers assessments of writers to whom he feels indebted as a reader and provides a re-assessment of their lives and work. Tends to take critical pot-shots at writers on the liberal Left as well as homosexual authors such as E.M. Forster. Considers that the academic Left has lavished praise on writers such as Doctorow and Coover while placing conservative writers "down the memory hole of history". English writers like Barbara Pym and Philip Larkin are praised for their solid literary common sense which Epstein finds in deplorably short supply among today’s writers. Believes this a reason for their continued popularity.

The Garden of Reading: an Anthology of Twentieth-Century Short Fiction About Gardens and Gardeners. Ed. Michele B. Slung. New York: Overlook Duckworth, 2005.

A collection of stories and excerpts that celebrates gardens of all kinds found in literature. Includes a wide range of authors from Stephen King to Barbara Pym. The author's stated purpose is to include stories that would illuminate the way garden spaces possess existances that evoke human emotions especially of those who created them. Includes the chapter So, Some Tempestuous Morn that discusses references to the flowers, gardens and the Monkey Puzzle Tree in Pym’s novel Crampton Hodnet. "Irises on the pulpit!" said Miss Doggett at luncheon the next day. "Most unsuitable."

Garner, Lawrence. Oswestry Girl: Barbara Pym, 1913-1980. Oswestry, UK: Oswestry and District Civic Society, 2005.

Published by the Oswestry and District Civic Society and supported by the Oswestry Local Joint Committee. Oswestry, Shropshire was Barbara Pym's birthplace and the town where her family lived for many years. The author is a local resident of Oswestry. Provides a biography of Pym with some lesser known material concerning her early life with her family. Includes less familiar photos of Pym and one of a young Henry Harvey.

Gillooly, Eileen. Smile Of Discontent: Humor, Gender, and Nineteenth-Century British Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Like sex, Eileen Gillooly argues, humour has long been viewed as a repressed feature of nineteenth-century femininity. However, in the works of writers such as Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell, Gillooly finds an understated, wryly amusing perspective that differs subtly but significantly in rhetoric, affect, and politics from traditional forms of comic expression. The author shows that for female writers of the time, humour became a means for expressing discontent with a culture that was ideologically committed to repressing feminine identity. The author demonstrates how humour employed by writers from Burney to Wharton persists in the work of Barbara Pym, Anita Brookner, and Penelope Fitzgerald.

Groner, Marlene San Miguel. "Barbara Pym 1913-1980." in Modern British Women Writers: An A-Z Guide. Eds. Vicki K. Janik and Del Ivan Janik. Chicago: Greenwood, 2002.

A guide to the biographies, work and achievements of twentieth-century British women writers. Contains a chapter on Barbara Pym's life and fiction plus a critique. Each entry is written by an expert and contains an overview of the writer's background, an analysis of major works, and an assessment of the critical response to the writings.

Hanson, Clare. "The Raw and the Cooked: Barbara Pym and Claude Levi-Strauss." in Women's Writing 1945-1960: After the Deluge. Ed. Jane Dowson. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 2003. p.205-216.

This collection of essays focuses on twentieth-century women-centered writing and women's literature. The essay on Barbara Pym's work discusses the influence of anthropology on her fiction. The author believes that Pym's engagement with anthropology, based on her lengthy employment at the International African Institute, was more profound than critics have generally suggested. She presents the view that in the postWar world Pym's writing was in line with current trends and thought in anthropology, which lay between a socio-scientific interpretation of Man and a liberal-humanist and religious perspective. For example, the structure of the novel Less Than Angels is derived from anthropological developments at the time, and traces early power transfer from men to women in the 1950s. Patriarchy underlying society as a fundamental structure was on the decline. In Pym's novels, Man's role is becoming increasingly ceremonial while practical power is devolved to women. She further argues that Pym adopted an anthropological perspective in laying bare a society driven by power struggles and conflict notably in relation to gender. In keeping with the philosophy of Claude Levi-Strauss, Pym stressed basic humanity in the simple gesture and good manners, thus restoring meaning to the value of social ritual.

Iyer, Pico. Tropical Classical: Essays From Several Directions. New York: Knopf, 1997.

Tropical Classical is a collection of essays and articles by the author of Video Night in Katmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East. The essays are perceptive and witty. Iyer is considered unusually successful in evaluating literature and seeing things that other critics miss. Includes an essay on Barbara Pym's novel No Fond Return of Love.

Joannou, Maroula. Women's Writing, Englishness and National and Cultural Identity: The Mobile Woman and the Migrant Voice, 1938-1962. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Examines Englishness and national identity in women's writing. The basic premise is that individual mobility was a metaphor in the 1940s and '50s and with it, the changing experience of women. Themes addressed include the displacements of population due to war, women's radically altered understanding of their own sexuality, the retreat from Empire, and the relationship of women to the idea of Nation. Includes commentary on Englishness and gender. Discusses the work of authors such as Elizabeth Bowen, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Daphne Du Maurier, Jessie Kesson, Lynette Roberts, Doris Lessing, and Muriel Spark.

Kellman, Steven G., and Frank N. Magill. Magill's Survey of World Literature. rev.ed. Pasedena, CA: Salem, 2009.

Magill is an established reference source useful to researchers and students. Offers profiles of major writers outside the United States from all time periods, accompanied by an analysis of their literary works including fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry. Includes a survey of Barbara Pym in volume 5.

Kowalik, Barbara. "Barbara Pym and Poland." in Discourses of Literature: Studies in Honour of Alina Szala. Lublin: Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Press, 1997. p.181-192.

Discusses details of Barbara Pym's brief working experience in Katowice Poland in 1938. Refers to Pym's diaries for this period. States that Pym had an apolitical, naive view of the situation in Poland at that time. Discusses Pym's unfinished novel Home Front which includes England's preparations for war and the reactions of Beatrice the heroine. Typically Pymian, Beatrice turns to domestic tasks and thoughts of romance to take her mind from unpleasant war news. Comments on Pym's use of Polish motifs in her novels and claims that these are not always used correctly. In this connection, mentions her novel Crampton Hodnet and the character Simon Beddoes whose father was the "late British ambassador to Warsaw".

Leavitt, David, and Mark Mitchell. The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories. New York: Penguin, 1994.

An anthology of gay writing which includes Barbara Pym's A Glass of Blessings. The novel, with its gay sub-theme and the characters of Piers Longridge and Keith his friend, was considered daring at the time of publication in the 1950s.

Lenckos, Frauke Elisabeth, and Ellen J. Miller. All This Reading: The Literary World of Barbara Pym. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.

Eighteen essays by noted scholars and critics examining the theme of reading in Pym's novels. Through their various approaches to the possibilities of readerly identification, a new image of Barbara Pym emerges from this collection. The first part of the book examines the significance of reading in Pym works, both for her bookish heroines as well as for the author herself. The second part reveals literary encounters and collaborations in Pym’s life and work. Pym wrote of lives that would otherwise pass unnoticed. These essays probe the subtleties, undercurrents, and connections in her canon. The essays are diverse and thoughtful and assist in ensuring Pym a permanent place in 20th century literature. Pym had a lifelong interest in books, reading, libraries and publishing. In these contexts she always inhabited a fully literary life.

Levin, Amy K. The Suppressed Sister: A Relationship in Novels by Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century British Women. Lewisburg Pa.; London: Bucknell University Press; Associated University Presses, 1992.

Several of Pym's novels are concerned with the relationship between sisters. She examined questions that arise in relationships among women in general. Like other writers she also pays homage, albeit sometimes in an ironic manner, to "sister" writers in the past. In Pym's case these are Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot. The novels Some Tame Gazelle and An Unsuitable Attachment are examined in this light showing Pym's allusion to Gaskell's novel Cranford as well as Eliot's Middlemarch. Pym provides the opportunity for marriage for the sisters in her novels though this is usually averted; proposals of marriage are considered upsetting to the narrative. While sisterly singlehood may be celebrated, happiness for women remains elusive. Pym’s women are often vulnerable and sometimes isolated from other women in the community. They may lack contact with the larger world as well as sexual fulfillment.

Little, Judy. The Experimental Self: Dialogic Subjectivity in Woolf, Pym, and Brooke-Rose. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.

Acknowledging the importance of Bakhtin’s concept of the dialogic, the author utilizes the insights of Bakhtin and other literary theorists such as Derrida, Foucault, and Lyotard as strategies for examining the political complexity of the "self" in the fiction of Virginia Woolf, Barbara Pym, and Christine Brooke-Rose. Little demonstrates that the tradition of the self-as-individual belongs to a complex, intricately dialogic discourse. Woolf, Pym, and Brooke-Rose, she argues, manifest a creative, experimental relationship to Western discourses of subjectivity, and their novels construct ideologically mobile selves that thrive on dialogic appropriation and transformation.

McErlain, Patricia. "In the Death: Marriage and Spinsterhood in the Novels of Barbara Pym." in Estudios De La Mujer En El Ámbito De Los Países De Habla Inglesa, Vol. III. Eds. Ana Antón-Pacheco, Josephine Bregazzi, and Isabel Durán. Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1998. p.149-159.

---. "Miss Pym's Ladies: Women in the Novels of Barbara Pym." in Estudios De La Mujer En El Ámbito De Los Países De Habla Inglesa, II. Eds. Josephine Bregazzi, Isabel Durán, and Dámaso López. Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1996. 207-212.

Moseley, Merritt. British Novelists since 1960. Third Series. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. Series: Dictionary of Literary Biography; vol. 207.

Contains biographical sketches of representative British novelists whose work began to appear roughly around 1960.; J.G. Ballard (1930- ) -- Stan Barstow (1928- ) -- Nina Bawden (1925) -- John Berger (1926- ) -- Caroline Blackwood (1931-1996) -- Malcolm Bradbury (1932- ) -- Mary Rose Callaghan (1944- ) -- Angela Carter (1940-1992) -- Candida Crewe (1964- ) -- Sebastian Faulks (1953- ) -- John Fowles (1926- ) -- Stephen Fry (1957- ) -- Maggie Gee (1948- ) -- Giles Gordon (1940- ) -- Alan Hollinghurst (1954- ) -- Nick Hornby (1957- ) -- Dan Jacobson (1929- ) -- Howard Jacobson (1942- ) -- Penelope Lively (1933- ) -- Adam Mars-Jones (1954- ) -- William McIlvanney (1936- ) -- Nicholas Mosley (1923- ) -- V.S. Naipaul (1932- ) -- Christopher Priest (1943- ) -- Barbara Pym (1913-1980) -- Bernice Rubens (1928- ) -- Paul Scott (1920-1978) -- Will Self (1961- ) -- David Storey (1933- ) -- D.M. Thomas (1935- ) -- Rosemary Tonks (1932- ) -- Joanna Trollope (1943- ) -- Jeanette Winterson (1959- ).

No Soft Incense: Barbara Pym and the Church. Ed. Hazel K. Bell. Hove, UK: Anna Brown Assoc. and the Barbara Pym Society, 2004.

Includes essays based on recent conference papers delivered to the Barbara Pym Society, some of the contributors being Society members. The essays are grouped around the theme of the Church of England which is central to Pym's novels. Content ranges from the scholarly to the popular. Contributors have a wide range of personal backgrounds but all are devoted Pymians. The essays reflect a lively and affectionate interest in Barbara Pym and her novels.

"Old Maids to Radical Spinsters: Unmarried Women in the Twentieth-Century Novel." in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Laura L. Doan. Vol. 3, University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Doan examines Pym's portrayal of unmarried women as a reflection of the author's personal struggle to reconcile her own feelings about marriage and sexuality. She describes Pym's version of spinsterhood as "an alternative life-style which offers women an active role in society and allows them the opportunity to examine others critically." Despite Pym's early declaration of the likelihood of remaining unmarried (so stated as early as 1938 in a letter to a friend), Pym's seeming ambivalence about her status in life resonates throughout her novels.

Parks, Tim. Translating Style: A Literary Approach to Translation. Manchester, UK: St Jerome, 2007.

Parks is a translator as well as a successful novelist in his own right. Critics have called this book a stunningly successful essay on the nuts and bolts of translation. Through lively and detailed analysis Parks demonstrates what it really means to translate literary style. The essay combines linguistic analysis and literary criticism. Chapter 6 is titled "Barbara Pym and the Untranslatable Commonplace". Includes a bibliography and index.

Phillips, D. Z. From Fantasy to Faith: Morality, Religion and Twentieth-Century Literature. 2nd ed. London: SCM, 2006.

The author presents a wide range of writers with a view to developing an understanding of religious and ethical concepts as well as religious practices. The concern is with the philosophy of religion and ethics through a broad contemplation of literature. Reflects on a variety of literary works which are thought-provoking. Part IV includes the essay "Under God's Heaven -- Who's Who Barbara Pym". Also includes an essay on Philip Larkin.

Pym, Barbara, Hilary Pym, and Honor Wyatt. À La Pym: the Barbara Pym Cookery Book. Totnes, UK: Prospect Books, 1995.

A collection of recipes favoured by Barbara Pym with explanatory text. Pym was interested in cookery and often mentions food, recipes, restaurants, and eating in her novels. Some of the recipes in this book are mentioned in her fiction such as Poulet Niçoise in Quartet in Autumn.

The Pymnal: References To Hymns From the Writings of Barbara Pym With the Hymn Texts. Ed. Tom Sopko, n.p., n.d.

Barbara Pym’s novels are full of quotes from and allusions to hymns, some humorous, some poetic and some poignant. This booklet collects the references from her novels and journals and also provides the texts of the corresponding hymns. Barbara Pym was a lifelong churchgoer and the daughter of a church organist. The author is the North American Organizer of the Barbara Pym Society.

Raz, Orna. Social Dimensions in the Novels of Barbara Pym, 1949-1963. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2007.

Discusses Barbara Pym's six novels written between 1949 and 1963. Considers the response of Pym's heroines to the dramatic social, cultural, and demographic changes that took place in Britain during the postWar period. Treating Pym's 1950s novels as social-historical sources, the author analyzes the manner in which her portrayals of English society served both as testimonies and critiques of that particular time. The focal point is the interaction between the individual, the community, and the Church of England. The author also comments on changing social attitudes regarding the unmarried state, family life, and sexuality. Raz points out that change was not a steady progress towards tolerance in British society as one might expect, citing for example, the re-charged hostility toward homosexuality in the 1950s.

Ross, Michael L. Race Riots: Comedy and Ethnicity in Modern British Fiction. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2006.

The objective is to examine the ideological climate of comedy in a variety of British fictional texts including the work of Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark and Barbara Pym. The author shows how humour directed at ethnic "others" exposes deeply entrenched national attitudes. The racialized laughter in the period between the two World Wars, for example, often revealed a disdain for non-Europeans. The author shows how female writers including Muriel Spark, Barbara Pym, and Elizabeth Taylor challenged established masculine set precedents in comic literature. Ross also explains the complexity of racial humour and how comedy can subvert or reinforce stereotyping, depending on the purpose, be it racial or gender.

Rossen, Janice. Women Writing Modern Fiction: A Passion for Ideas. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave McMillan, 2003.

The author presents the view that to write as a woman can be a difficult and meaningful act. But several women authors regard gender as only part of an artistic identity which must ideally be transcended in the construction of their novels. Their aim is to write “beyond gender” in order to offer a wider perspective. This book focuses on twentieth-century women writers who are major presences in literary history, but who have not yet been included in a large-scale feminist debate: Elizabeth Bowen, Dorothy L. Sayers, Olivia Manning, Barbara Pym, Iris Murdoch and A.S. Byatt. By-passing the experimentation of the modernists, these novelists carried on the Victorian tradition of writing realistic fiction, or what some critics have called 'common sense' fiction.

Rubin, Merle. The Distinctive Voice and Vision of Anita Brookner. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.

The author comments on Pym's style while comparing it to the work of Anita Brookner. Brookner has frequently been likened to Barbara Pym, perhaps because both wrote about genteel, romantically susceptible women looking for love often without success and in unlikely places. Both Pym and Brookner, in turn, have been compared to Jane Austen though the author believes that Pym has the better claim to be the inheritor of Austen's mantle. Although all three authors are brilliant ironists and mistresses of their seemingly small but rich domains, Brookner lacks Austen's and Pym's sense of comedy.

Sizemore, Christine Wick. Negotiating Identities in Women's Lives: English Postcolonial and Contemporary British Novels. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002. Contributions in Women's Studies; 196.

The author brings together feminism, postcolonial theory, and developmental psychology to analyze how traditional literary forms are transformed by women writing in different cultures. The book discusses works by such established authors as Margaret Atwood, Nadine Gordimer, Keri Hulme, and Doris Lessing, along with fiction by less studied writers such as Barbara Burford, Joan Riley, and Barbara Pym.

Solow, Harrison. Felicity and Barbara Pym. Gwynedd, UK: Cinnamon, 2010.

Felicity and Barbara Pym is a cross-genre work that has its roots in Harrison Solow’s own search as an undergraduate student for “a magnificently unified microcosm” of the world. The book is an unusual kind of journey into the mind of an intellectual professor who, through a series of letters to a reluctant student, tries to inspire a love of Barbara Pym's fiction. Described as an entertaining look at the British/American cultural divide that is at once witty and clever.

Soule, George. Four British Women Novelists: Anita Brookner, Margaret Drabble, Iris Murdoch, Barbara Pym: An Annotated and Critical Secondary Bibliography. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1998.

A complete reference guide for researchers, students, teachers, and anyone interested in learning more about these four British novelists. Includes helpful dual citations and annotations for secondary sources that cover more than one novel, and careful, precise, annotations, qualities that make it very useful for general readers and undergraduates. Predominance given to Iris Murdoch in the text.

Stade, George. British Writers. Supplement II, Kingsley Amis to J.R.R. Tolkien. New York: Scribner's; 1992. Scribner’s Writers Series.

The Scribner Writers Series has set the standard for literary reference for more than twenty-five years. In addition to addressing the lives and careers of important writers, the articles discuss the themes and styles of major works and place them in pertinent historical, social and political contexts. Includes novelists, playwrights, essayists, poets, and short story writers. Introductory essays and chronological tables open each volume and provide a historical background. Includes in-depth critical and biographical analysis. Barbara Pym is included in this volume.

Tsagaris, Ellen M. The Subversion of Romance in the Novels of Barbara Pym. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1998.

Explores the manner in which Barbara Pym subverts the discourse of the romance novel through her use of food, clothing, characterizations, and marriage customs, often employing a comic voice. Pym's reduction of male protagonists to inept or inadequate social beings redefines romantic love as it is typically presented in literature. Pym spoofs various forms of romantic literature to answer the question as to whether a woman can lead a full life, particularly an unmarried woman. This subversive treatment of the romance genre usually answers the question positively; a single "excellent" woman is quite capable of having a worthwhile and meaningful existence.

Walia, Rajni. Women and Self: Fictions of Jean Rhys, Barbara Pym, Anita Brookner. New Delhi: Book Plus, 2001.

A critical study of the fictions of Jean Rhys, Barbara Pym, and Anita Brookner. Walia attempts to define "the woman's novel" and to discuss the manner in which the female novelist has revitalized the realistic novel in order to explore female experiences and preoccupations. The author shows the commonalities between Rhys, Pym and Brookner based on their literary examination of female disappointment in traditional heterosexual love relationships. Unrequited love in Pym is treated with comic resignation. Walia notes that Pym and Brookner possess an absolute lack of sentimentality in their novels. Provides a general overview of the writers' lives and literary works.

Weld, Annette. Barbara Pym and the Novel of Manners. Houndsmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 1992.

The author's stated purpose is fivefold: (1) to define the novel of manners and Pym's place within the genre; (2) to show how Pym experimented in her early work with several literary styles as she attempted to discover her voice; (3) to examine her early novels for their characteristic themes (4) to consider the reasons for Pym's rejection, resurrection as a writer, and subsequent valediction; and (5) to incorporate significant events from her private life that influenced her creative development. Henry James' argument that the writer of fiction should be "one upon whom nothing is lost" received a definite embodiment in the life of Barbara Pym, whose acute observations are woven into the fabric of her fiction. Weld demonstrates that principle in her study.

Wyatt-Brown, Anne M. Barbara Pym: A Critical Biography. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1992.

Wyatt-Brown, the coordinator of Scholarly Writing at the University of Florida, objects to biographers such as Hazel Holt who paint a picture of Barbara Pym which is similar to one of Pym's own heroines. "Genteel, sanitized studies," Wyatt-Brown calls them. According to the author these studies ignore the depression and dissatisfactions that gave Pym the insight and the need to create characters such as Mildred Lathbury in Excellent Women or Jessie Morrow in Crampton Hodnet. Wyatt-Brown looks for deeper, psychological insights into Pym's motivations for writing. Pym wrestled throughout her life with personal problems--loneliness, dependency upon often unavailable men, headaches, and writer's block. Yet she worked hard to develop her comic vision. Pym's humour was based on a stoic acceptance of suffering. Wyatt-Brown's sharp, nuanced interpretation of Pym’s life and work shows how an artist's transformation of difficult experiences may not necessarily bring relief from painful personal experiences.