Books: In Praise of Excellent Women

Barbara Pym 's popularity proves that old-fashioned virtues pay

Her career would furnish the plot for a 19th century novel: patience rewarded, prevalence over adversity. In the '50s Barbara Pym was a thriving author of well-made English novels. The Swinging Sixties, which got their early momentum in London, swept her out of style. It was not until 1977, when both Poet Philip Larkin and Biographer Lord David Cecil mentioned her in a Times Literary Supplement survey of unjustly neglected writers, that anyone cared to deal with a Pym manuscript. But Larkin and Cecil, literary...

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