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Being splendid

Stephen Wall, 3 March 1988

Civil to Strangers 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 333 39128 4
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The Pleasure of Miss Pym 
by Charles Burkhart.
Texas, 120 pp., $17.95, July 1987, 0 292 76496 0
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The World of Barbara Pym 
by Janice Rossen.
Macmillan, 193 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 333 42372 0
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The Life and Work of Barbara Pym 
edited by Dale Salwak.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 333 40831 4
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... successor, Civil to Strangers, is the fourth novel to appear since Barbara Pym’s death in 1980. Hazel Holt, her friend and literary executor, has also added to it parts of three other novels and some short stories. When this hoard from the bottom drawer is put alongside the nine books published during Pym’s lifetime and the autobiographical material ...

One Thing

John Bayley, 22 November 1990

Jean Rhys 
by Carole Angier.
Deutsch, 780 pp., £15.99, November 1990, 0 233 98597 2
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A Lot to Ask: A Life of Barbara Pym 
by Hazel Holt.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 333 40614 1
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... of Pym letters and diaries, A Very Private Eye, which she coedited with Barbara’s sister, Hazel Holt has now done a highly competent and admirable job as biographer. A colleague at the International African Institute in London, where Barbara worked, she understands well the ins and outs of the ramifying Pym background, and her book is a valuable ...

The Pleasures of Poverty

Barbara Everett, 6 September 1984

A Very Private Eye: An Autobiography in Letters and Diaries 
by Barbara Pym, edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £12.95, July 1984, 0 333 34995 4
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... Pym’s ‘image’ from being again lost to public view, that her friend and literary executor Hazel Holt, and her sister Hilary Pym, have put together from the writer’s journals and letters what they call an ‘Autobiography’, A Very Private Eye. Its very title suggests a joky apologetic gesture towards what is seen as the problem of being a ...


John Bayley, 4 September 1986

An Academic Question 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 182 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41843 3
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A Misalliance 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 191 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 224 02403 5
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... and began to think about the novel that was to become Quartet in Autumn. Her sister Hilary and Hazel Holt have skilfully married the two manuscripts into a novel as readable and characteristic as any in the Pym canon. As in the other posthumous novel, Crampton Hodnet, which dates from an earlier period, and all the previously published ones, there are ...

Some Sad Turtle

Alison Light: Spinsters and Clerics, 29 July 2021

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym: A Biography 
by Paula Byrne.
William Collins, 686 pp., £25, April, 978 0 00 832220 5
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... soon followed.After Pym died in 1980, her sister, Hilary, and Pym’s close friend and colleague Hazel Holt, put together an ‘autobiography’ from her letters and diaries: A Very Private Eye (1984). Holt’s biography proper was published in 1990. She was lavish with quotation, relying on Pym’s endlessly ...

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