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  • Virago

An Academic Question

Barbara Pym

5 Reviews

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Virago Modern Classics, Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A delightful comedy of manners, An Academic Question is prime Barbara Pym


'I'm a huge fan of Barbara Pym' RICHARD OSMAN

'My favourite writer . . . I pick up her books with joy' JILLY COOPER

'Beneath the gentle surfaces of her novels is a slow-building comedy, salt wit in a saline drip' NEW YORK TIMES

In a provincial university town, Caro Grimstone, a dissatisfied faculty wife, becomes the unwilling accomplice to her husband Alan's ambitions. When she volunteers to read to a blind, esteemed anthropologist in a nursing home, Alan seizes the opportunity to steal his papers - research that could both advance his reputation while refuting the findings of a respected colleague. A delightful comedy of manners with a touch of mystery, An Academic Question is prime Barbara Pym territory.

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Praise for An Academic Question

  • No novelist brings more telling observation or more gentle pleasure - Jilly Cooper

  • A splendid humorous writer - John Betjeman

  • There is a thrill of humanity through all her work - Shirley Hazzard

  • A modern Jane Austen

  • She is the rarest of treasures; she reminds us of the heart-breaking silliness of everyday life

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Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym (1913-1980) was born in Oswestry, Shropshire. She was educated at Huyton College, Liverpool, and St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she gained an Honours Degree in English Language and Literature. From 1958-1974, she worked as an editorial secretary at the International African Institute. Her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle, was published in 1950, and was followed by Excellent Women (1952), Jane and Prudence (1953), Less than Angels (1955), A Glass of Blessings (1958) and No Fond Return of Love (1961). During the sixties and early seventies her writing suffered a partial eclipse and, discouraged, she concentrated on her work for the Institute, from which she retired in 1974 to live in Oxfordshire. A renaissance in her fortunes came in 1977, when both Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil chose her as one of the most underrated novelists of the century. With astonishing speed, she emerged, after sixteen years of obscurity, to almost instant fame and recognition. Quartet in Autumn was published in 1977 and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Sweet Dove Died followed in 1978, and A Few Green Leaves was published posthumously. Barbara Pym died in January 1980.

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