Journal Articles M-Z

MacClancy, Jeremy. "The Literary Image of Anthropologists." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 11.3 (2005): p.549-75.

The author believes that it is strange that anthropologists have ignored popular accounts of themselves in spite of the fact that they are the most written-about academics in fiction. Anthropologists are often portrayed as either heroic or, much more commonly, as rather pathetic. The author contends that fieldwork marks them out as distinctive and makes ordinary anthropologists seem quite odd. Discusses the description of anthropologists in a variety of modern literary works. Mentions Barbara Pym several times as showing anthropologists in her novels as unconventional. Their apparent peculiarity throws into stark relief the conventionality of other characters in her novels, especially women protagonists. The author believes that Pym's intention is to emphasize the conventionality of these female characters' lives as well as their over-concern with mundane details.
Full text available in the database Wiley Online Library.

May, Radmila. "The English Novel in the Twentieth Century: Barbara Pym in Henley.” Contemporary Review 268.1561 (1996): p.87.

Radmila May is the daughter of John Barnicot and his wife who were friends of Barbara Pym. Barnicot met Pym as a student at Oxford and is mentioned in her diaries. He was a member of the close circle of Oxonian friends that included Henry Harvey and Robert Liddell. May examines Pym's novels for references to these friends and her father. She concludes that some characters in Pym's novels are based on this circle. She also writes of a meeting with Pym in the late 1960s when Pym asked May for help in publishing a novel.
Full text available in the database Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection.

McCall Smith, Alexander "Beauty Locked Out." New Criterion 30.1 (2011): p.13-16.

Compares Barbara Pym's canon to that of Jane Austen. Discusses Pym’s problem in getting published during the latter part of her career. The author believes that Pym's novels, like Austen's, deal with lives that are, in many respects, quite ordinary. They do not dwell on conflict, social dysfunction, or psychopathology, nor do they contain explicit violence or interpersonal anger. McCall Smith believes that the literary establishment "that kept the gates" found Pym's later work fundamentally uninteresting and overly quiet. This, in spite of the fact that for readers of Barbara Pym, the later novels proved to be just as popular as her earlier writing, once they were available to the public. Had her novels continued to be published in the '60s it is likely her readership would have expanded.
Full text available in the database Academic Search Complete.

McInnis, Judy B. "Communal Rites: Tea, Wine and Milton in Barbara Pym's Novels." Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 48.4 (1996): p.279-95.

Describes Barbara Pym's subversive use of John Milton's poetry by investigating the nature of love in relation to the rituals of tea and wine consumption in her novels. Discusses Pym's connection to Milton; the blending of impure and sacred love; the celebration of the continuity of daily life which is assured by an imminent deity in the tea ritual; the consumption of wine as an attempt to achieve union with a transcendent divinity.
Full text available in the database Academic Search Complete.

Morrison, Jago. "Aging Reimagined: Exploring Older Women's Attitudes to Aging Through Reader Response." Contemporary Women's Writing 10.19 (2011): p.1-17.

Presents early results from a research study conducted in 2009–10, involving a reader-response analysis working with 80 volunteers with an average age of seventy. The study used fiction in order to create a place for critical reflection on the changing experience of aging. Focuses on the responses of older women readers to the novel Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym. Setting their varied responses within the changing context of contemporary age-culture, the essay highlights some gendered experiences with the aging process. Describes Pym's novel Quartet in Autumn as a sharply observed account of aging and the ageist gaze written more than a decade into Pym's own period of enforced retirement from writing. The novel revolves around ideas about ageist invisibility and vulnerability, which defines itself through a sense of exclusion from society.
Full text available in the database Oxford Journals Online.

Moseley, Merritt. "A Few Words About Barbara Pym." Sewanee Review 98.1 (1990): p. 75-87.

Moseley comments on the reasons those who like Pym tend to like her a great deal and his essay is focused on explaining why. Discusses the main themes in Pym's novels which include the condition of the unmarried woman, male weakness, the Anglican Church, English literature, particularly the greater English poets, and anthropologists. States that Pym's literary success is based on her mastery of the small world she wrote about which she wryly appraised as "a quieter, narrower kind of life". The author believes that though Pym wrote about a small domestic kind of existence comparisons to Jane Austen are misleading. Pym's novels are even narrower and quieter. Her heroines do not usually marry at the end of the novels although there are exceptions. The author argues that, unlike Austen's novels, the female protagonists in Pym's fiction have dim futures with respect to love and marriage. Romance remains thwarted.
Full text available in the database JSTOR.

Mullen, Alexandra. "Miss Pym Disposes." New Criterion 23.9 (2005): p.85-.

An analysis of the collection of essays No Soft Incense: Barbara Pym and the Church, published by the Barbara Pym Society. The author generally praises the collection which she describes as having "a pleasantly amateurish air from contributors who make up an almost stereotypical cast of Pym characters, largely divided into excellent women and clergy." The collection also includes useful lists such as Pym's London churches and a clerical directory. The essay is more than a book review; it also critiques Pym's work.
Full text available in the database Academic Search Complete.

Myers, Mary. "Barbara Pym: a Further List of Secondary Sources." Bulletin of Bibliography 48 (1991): p.25-6.

A bibliographical list of secondary source materials published on Barbara Pym. Updates the original bibliography by Judith Berndt "Barbara Pym: a supplementary list of secondary sources", published in 1986. Divided into topics; each of Pym's novels has bibliographical references in this list.
Available on microfilm.

---. "Barbara Pym: a Supplement to a Further List of Secondary Sources." Bulletin of Bibliography 49 (1992): p.81-2.

A bibliographical list of materials published on Barbara Pym up to 1992. Divided into sections; general criticism, reviews, media, biography and miscellany. Provides a supplement to the list published the previous year, by the same author: Barbara Pym; a further list of secondary sources (1991).
Available on microfilm.

Osborne, Victor. “Miss Pym The Not So Prim: Literary Landscapes.” Daily Telegraph (London): 06.07 (2003): p.14.

The author describes a visit to Finstock, Oxfordshire where Pym lived with her sister Hilary from the early 1970’s. Includes an interview with Hilary Pym Walton in which she describes Barbara Pym’s love affair with Gordon Glover during World War 11 from which she states that Pym never fully recovered.
Full text available in the database Lexis Nexis Academic.

Patrick, Graham A. "God and the Novelists: Barbara Pym." Expository Times 110.6 (1999): p.169-72.

A publisher of religious materials once invited Barbara Pym to write a spiritual book. She declined on the grounds that her spirituality was to be found in her novels. Some literary critics have thought that there is little spiritual depth in Pym's novels and that she wrote only an ironic, detached portrait of a moribund Church of England, emphasizing its rituals and clergy, the triviality of church decoration and flower arranging. The author believes that such a judgment misses the rich moral and theological content of her novels, as well as the deeply spiritual connection and affection she had for the Church.
Full text available on the database Sage Journals Online.

Pym, Hilary. "Village Strife." Spectator 313.9488 (2010): p.25.

Brief letter written to a newspaper with comments by Barbara Pym's sister Hilary Pym Walton on village life and its social order. It shows some snobbery among the inhabitants.
Full text available in the database Expanded Academic ASAP.

Raz, Orna. "Dandies, Acolytes and Teddy Boys: Ambiguous Treatment of Male Sexuality in Barbara Pym's Novels of the 1950s." Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 4.1 (2006): p.107-28.

The author argues that, for the most part, Barbara Pym's novels of the 1950s realistically depict the lives of educated upper middle-class English women but that she seemed disinterested in developing conventionally masculine male characters. Her novels contain a wide range of men who do not seem to conform to contemporary notions of masculinity. Almost all of them are part of the Anglo-Catholic Church, a form of High Anglicanism that places particular value on Catholic traditions within the Church of England. This essay examines Pym's ambiguous treatment of male sexuality and her approach to the historical connection between Anglo-Catholicism and homosexuality.
Full text available in the database Project MUSE.

---. “From Greenland's Icy Mountains: The West Indians and the Church in An Unsuitable Attachment." Kunapipi: Journal of Postcolonial Writing 30.1 (2008): p.137-48.

Examines Barbara Pym's novel An Unsuitable Attachment and its depiction of West Indians in a north London parish in order to understand the social, cultural, and demogaphic changes affecting post-World War 11 England. The author shows that Pym's representation of the West Indian immigrants and their relationship to the Anglican Church is an accurate portrayal of the period, a period in which the Notting Hill Race Riots took place. Pym subtly criticizes the manner in which 1950s immigrants were treated by British society. In spite of their geographic proximity in the parish, the immigrants and locals do not come together in the Church. Pym also suggests that Mark and Sophia Ainger have a poor response to the West Indians, both as citizens and as Christians, showing a degree of ignorance about them despite their presence in the parish. Mark, as parish priest, fails to fully extend a Christian hand. The fact that the Aingers are dissatisfied in the parish suggests an ambivalence toward the West Indian newcomers which was typical of the time.

---. "A Thankless Task: Educated Women in the Novels of Barbara Pym 1949-1960." Web.

In Barbara Pym's novels of the 1950s education was one of the main topics that concerned her. Most of the characters in Pym’s novels are upper class and educated. Pym examined the relevance of their education to their lives and to their particular environment, especially in the case of women. This essay explores the reciprocal nature of the relationship between Pym’s writing and the culture and society of post-War Britain up to 1960. Raz posits that British society underwent a great deal of change after 1945, from postWar reconstruction to development of the welfare state and the building of the new "red brick" universities. Pym’s work reflects the unease that educated women experienced with the changes in the world around them. Pym’s female protagonists, for the most part, had no interest in the new social order and material progress, or in class mobility. Raz suggests that these women experienced a growing discrepancy between themselves and the changing social environment.
Full text available online.

---. "Ugly Victorian Churches and Anglo-Catholic Rituals: Spiritual Uplift in Barbara Pym's Novels of the 1950s." Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory 11.1 (2009): p.1-11.

The Anglican Church is at the core of most of Barbara Pym's novels written in the 1950s. For Pym the Church represented the heart of the community and the centre of life for most of her characters. It is through Anglo-Catholicism that Pym's characters find purpose in life, particularly through the explicit rituals and external manifestations of Catholicism that the Anglo-Catholic Church offered them. In her novels, Pym often commented on Church architecture and decoration. In London the churches she described are generally represented by the High Victorian Gothic style found in the urban setting. The author suggests that Pym's characters find spiritual solace in these “ugly” Victorian churches, considered to be outstandingly unappealing at the time. Pym seems to suggest that the piety imbued in these churches e.g. in Excellent Women and Glass of Blessings, provided a particular kind of positive energy for Christian reflection. She finds this vibrancy lacking in rural churches where the emphasis seems to be on mausoleums, and other architectural associations with death.
Full abstract available in the database Literature Resource Center.

Richard, Linda. "The Importance of Being Trivial: Barbara Pym's Excellent Woman." Études Britanniques Contemporaines: Revue de la Société d'Études Anglaises Contemporaines 0 (1992): p.11-21.

The author believes that the value of Pym's work lies in the fact that she emphasized the "importance of the trivial" not only in the lives of her heroines but throughout the entire canon. Suggests that criticism of Pym's writing has focused on the fact that she valued and wrote about small domestic concerns (the "trivial") and that she was a woman writer. Both of these are prejudicial to Pym. The author contends that her writing is far more subversive than it appears on the surface and that it succeeds largely through comedy. An analysis of Excellent Women supports the author's viewpoint.
Full text available online.

--- "'The Trivial Round, the Common Task and the Disconcerting Order of Barbara Pym's Novels." Idéologies dans le Monde Anglo-Saxon 8 (1995): p.159-66.

Discusses the use of "the trivial" as a comic device as well as a means for making the fictional world familiar and safe in Pym's novels. Emphasis on the trivial also serves to debunk the pompous, especially in the religious sphere. The clergy are often presented as full of themselves and slightly ridiculous. Pym successful deflates any such tendencies that the clergy may believe are analogous to their status or social position. She also employs a cozy atmosphere to mask the absence of obvious piety or any religious message at all. Faith is constantly suggested in Pym’s novels yet left unexplained and unexplored except through superficial devices such as Church ritual. Pym's novels are full of paradoxes of this kind.

Rubens, Robert. "A Hundred Years of Fiction: 1896 to 1996." Contemporary Review 269.12 (1996): p.291-.

Reviews post-World War 11 British writers. Mentions Barbara Pym as adding to the richness of literature in this period. " All these postWar novelists have added greatly to the richness and variety of English literature in the last half century". Article encapsulates some of the main writers during this time.
Full text available in the databases: Literature Resource Center and General Reference Center Gold.

Saunders, Kate. "Serpents in Suburbia: Barbara Pym Was Never Just a Cosy Writer." Spectator 318.9581 (2012): p.40-41.

An essay describing the writing history of Barbara Pym's novel An Academic Question which was published posthumously. The author considers the novel "witty and sharp", if flawed. She attributes the novel's unevenness to Pym's attempt to modernize her style in the first draft, that draft having been completed in 1971. The author states that Pym believed this first manuscript was "too cosy to have any chance of being published". Pym wrote another version, trying to make An Academic Question more "swinging", in keeping with the times. The final version of the novel is editor Hazel Holt's artful amalgamation of all the available drafts and notes.
Full text available in the database Expanded Academic ASAP.

Schillinger, Liesl. "Romance Languages." New York Times Book Review 6.1 (2008): p.34(L).

Comments on the novel The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey. Discusses the spinster in literature with reference to Barbara Pym's interpretation of the single female in her novels.
Full text available in the database Literature Resource Center.

Schmidt, Daniel W. "Excellent Women and the Code of Suitability." Barbara Pym Newsletter 6 (1992): p.7-9.

The author believes that Pym's novels challenged codes of behaviour in British society. For example, societal "myths" are exposed by Mildred Lathbury in Excellent Women. Mildred internally detaches herself from the codes and shows the errors of the "excellent woman" myth. The author uses the structuralist language of Roland Barthes in this essay, particularly Barthes' essay "Myth Today" which argues that myth is speech that has become so accepted by society as a whole that it becomes unquestioned. Mildred is a "mythologist" who reads social myths accurately. However, she exposes only a single myth which is the code of the excellent woman, the contented spinster who serves society (men, the Church, those in need) rather than finding personal satisfaction in life.
Full text available in the database Literature Resource Center.

Schwarz, Benjamin. "The Afterlife." Atlantic Monthly 292.4 (2003): p.146-.

Schwarz reviews The Afterlife by Penelope Fitzgerald. Comments on her literary similarities to Barbara Pym. States that if men are less than angels, Barbara Pym's men are rather less than men, not wanting much more than constant attention and comfort. Their theses must be typed, endless dinners cooked, remarks listened to, and the forces of nature and society combine to ensure, even in the 1980s, that men get these things. Pym's women see through male characters clearly enough, but are drawn to them so that their own emotional needs can be met. Women also have a very human compassion that men generally take for granted.
Full text available in the database CBCA Reference and Current Events.

Shore, Cris. "Anthropology's Identity Crisis: The Politics of Public Image." Anthropology Today 12.2 (1996): p.2-5.

The author discusses the current image of anthropology as a discipline. He argues that in Britain the discipline suffers from a tainted colonial past and with it the traditional public view that anthropology has to do with "tribal management" with attendant negative connotations of racial superiority. He mentions literary connections including Barbara Pym as having contributed to this negative view, because of her overriding image of anthropology as ironic or amusing.
Full text available in the database JSTOR.

Smith, Robert. "Always Sincere, Not Always Serious": Robert Liddell and Barbara Pym." Twentieth Century Literature 41.4 (1995): p.367-80.

Written by a long-time friend of Pym's, Smith is critical of the literary evaluation of her work written by Robert Liddell an early friend of Pym's at Oxford. He believes that Liddell belittled Pym's work publicly in interviews. States that it was on Liddell’s advice that Pym learned to come to terms with emotional problems through "rueful, amused acceptance" which spilled over into her writing. Comments on Liddell's own literary output and his outrage at the publication of "A Very Private Eye" in 1984. Believes that Liddell was jealous of Pym's re-discovery and posthumous success.
Full text available in the database JSTOR.

Thomas, Francis-Noël. "Philip Larkin, Barbara Pym, and the Accident Of Literary Fame." New England Review 27.2 (2006): p.8-26.

Examines the work of Philip Larkin and Barbara Pym, commenting on the literary affinities between the two writers who also happened to be friends, though largely through correspondence. Although their tone and personal attitudes may have been different both writers were concerned with the commonplace if not mundane events of life, the small occurrences in everyday living, "the common round" as Pym called it. Discusses Larkin's assessment of Pym's canon and his efforts to intervene when Pym's latest novel was rejected by her publisher Jonathan Cape in the early 1960s. Larkin's impact on Pym's subsequent career is discussed.
Full text available in the database JSTOR.

Thomas, Susie. "Literary Apartheid in the Post-War London Novel: Finding the Middle Ground." Changing English: Studies in Culture & Education 12.2 (2005): p.309-25.

Examines the development of literary apartheid in post-War English fiction. While Anglo-English novelists have generally not included Black or Asian characters, London novelists have been an exception. Drawing on key texts from the 1950s to the 1970s (Colin MacInnes and Barbara Pym) and from the 1980s to the present (Michael Moorcock and Maggie Gee), this essay discusses varied Anglo-English responses to the development of London as a multicultural city. The author states that while Pym's fiction seems to be the epitome of Anglo-Englishness, she surprisingly had a grasp of the changing cultural diversity in urban centres. Pym's gently ironic treatment of lingering imperialistic attitudes and “little Englandism” is explored in A Glass of Blessings and Quartet in Autumn.
Full text available in the database Taylor Francis Online.

Tincknell, Estella. "Jane or Prudence? Barbara Pym's Single Women, Female Fulfilment and Career Choices in the 'Age of Marriages'." Critical Survey 18.2 (2006): p.31-44.

Explores the reassessment of the novels of Barbara Pym within the context of postWar 1950s Britain especially in relation to the family and femininity. Pym's characters employ a version of conservative modernism, a balance between the new age and the continued persistence of established conventions in British society, which Pym often interpreted with wry humour. Feminine roles are examined. The author believes that much of the critical work concerning this period has emphasized the family in the postWar welfare state together with the emerging consumer culture which is based around an intensified domesticity.
Full-text available in the database Academic Search Complete.

Tucker, Martin. "General Cornucopia: A Harvest of New and Re-Emerging Writers." Confrontation. 86/87 (2004): p.31-44.

Discusses the success of editorship and mentions Barbara Pym as one of the several twentieth-century writers who was undiscovered until late in life. Through no fault of her own, Pym's literary talent was overlooked by editors or simply rejected.
Full-text available in the database Literature Online.

Wallace, Catherine. "Pip Pip For Ms. Pym: Author's Eye For the Everyday Rectitude of the English Has Won Her Enduring Loyalty." Montreal Gazette 4.17 (1999): p.J.4.

Dr Barbara Everett of Somerville College, Oxford says (Pym) "may find herself out of print, or, even more comically, a cult." "Pym is an observer above all, a cultural anthropologist who kept notebooks of the small, everyday things she saw and heard." The article further discusses the re-emergence of public interest in Barbara Pym and the activities of the Barbara Pym Society. Mentions Pym's relevance today and her popularity or lack of it depending on the reader's point of view.
Full text available in the database NexisLexis Academic.

Wilson, Edward. "Philip Larkin's "Aubade" and Barbara Pym's A Glass of Blessings." Notes and Queries 40.4 (1993): p.505.

Discusses Philip Larkin's poem "Aubade" in connection to Pym’s novel A Glass of Blessings. Barbara Pym made reference to the phrase a "crouching telephone" in the novel, the word-image being of a telephone on the floor of Piers Longridge's empty flat. The article includes an exchange of correspondence between Pym and Larkin regarding Aubade the poem. Larkin read Pym's novels numerous times and praised her writing publicly. The correspondence between the two writers is entertaining. Full text available in the database General One File.

Wyatt-Brown, Anne. "The Literary Legacies: Continuity and Change." Generations 20.3 (1996): p.65-.

Examines the literature on the personal and psychological elements of legacies. The author describes the legacies in Barbara Pym's novels A Few Green Leaves, and Quartet in Autumn, and the effects these have on the novels' characters. In Quartet in Autumn Marcia Ivory leaves her house to colleague Norman in her will and the legacy contains within it the possibility of his personal liberation. In A Few Green Leaves the deaths of the two elderly women, the Misses Lickerish and Vereker, provide their own unusual legacies; in the first case, the instruction that death is not a frightening event but part of the cycle of life, and in the second, the discovery of the Deserted Medieval Village which frees Rector Tom Dagnall from his obsessive search for it.
Full-text available in the databases Academic Search Complete and CINAHL Plus.

---."Creative Change: The Life and Work of Four Novelists: Jane Austen, E. M. Forster, Barbara Pym, and Henry Roth." Journal of Aging and Identity 3.2 (1998): p.67-75.

Robert Kastenbaum has argued that critics need to take a life-span approach to the lives of artists in order to determine the factors that affect their creativity. To that end, the author reviews the lives of four writers; Jane Austen, E. M. Forster, Barbara Pym, and Henry Roth. Each followed a different pattern: Austen wrote productively until her early death, Forster ceased to write novels after his mid-life success, Barbara Pym continued to write until her death from cancer, and Henry Roth re-started his career in his seventies. The author believes that these events suggest that creativity is closely connected to life changes and the artist's psychological state of mind.
Full-text available in the database Springerlink Contemporary