Archive of Barbara Mary Crampton Pym
Barbara Pym's papers include the manuscripts of published and unpublished novels and short stories, literary papers, notebooks, diaries and correspondence. Loose leaves removed from some of the bound volumes, including notes and drafts for novels, are in MS. Pym 99.
- Creation: 1913-1980
11 Linear metres (178 physical shelfmarks)
Language of Materials
Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Pym 1, fols. 1-2].
Full range of shelfmarks:
MSS. Pym 1-178
Collection ID (for staff)
CMD ID 15136
Papers of Barbara Mary Crampton Pym (1913-80), novelist.
Biographical / Historical
Barbara Mary Crampton Pym was born in Oswestry on 2 June 1913, the elder of two daughters of a Shropshire solicitor, Frederic Pym and his wife, Irena. Precociously talented as a writer, Pym read English at St. Hilda's College, Oxford, where she began keeping an extensive diary-chronicle of her social and romantic life, episodes from which inspired some of her later novels. After gaining a second class degree in 1934, she began work on Some Tame Gazelle, for Henry Harvey ('Lorenzo'/'Gabriel') with whom she had fallen in love while an undergraduate.
Between 1935 and 1950 Pym wrote several short stories (a form which she disliked) and the novels Civil to Strangers, Gervase and Flora, Crampton Hodnet and most of Excellent Women, before Some Tame Gazelle was published by Jonathan Cape in 1950. A decade of popularity followed with the appearance of Excellent Women (1952), Jane and Prudence (1953), Less than angels (1955), and A Glass of Blessings (1958), before Pym's style and subject matter became unfashionable in the 1960s. When Cape refused to publish An Unsuitable attachment in 1963, Pym entered a fifteen year period of literary neglect until Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil named her as the most underrated writer of the twentieth century in an article in the Times Literary Supplement on 21 January 1977. Quartet in Autumn was published on 1 September 1977 and marked the beginning of a renaissance for Pym, who had the satisfaction of seeing Quartet in Autumn short-listed for the Booker Prize, and several of her earlier novels reissued before her death from cancer on 11 January 1980.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Unless otherwise stated, the papers (together with published translations, catalogued as [pr. bk.] 25615 e. 17194, 25617 e. 12567-9) were given by Hilary Walton, 1980, and Robert Smith, 1981.
- Catalogue of the archive of Barbara Mary Crampton Pym
- Angela Carritt, Judith Priestman, Timothy Rogers, edited and revised by M. Webb
- 1996, revised 2000
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Conversion to EAD supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation