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Summary

Dramatisations and a reading of selected novels by Barbara Pym - plus bonus material.

Barbara Pym is one of the 20th-century's wittiest, and most underrated, novelists. Her perceptive comedies of manners, centred around the domestic lives and loves of unassuming middle-class Englishwomen, won her many devoted readers and saw her hailed as a modern-day Jane Austen. Yet she spent 15 years out of print in the 1960s and '70s, until Philip Larkin championed her work in the Times Literary Supplement. Her seventh novel was subsequently shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and writers from Jilly Cooper to Alexander McCall Smith continue to laud her talent today.

Included in this collection are the BBC Radio dramatisations of some of her most beloved books, including her debut Some Tame Gazelle; her second novel Crampton Hodnet, published posthumously in 1985; and its sequel Jane and Prudence. Alongside them are her fifth and sixth novels, A Glass of Blessings and No Fond Return of Love; and a comic spy thriller, So Very Secret. Adapted by actress and writer Elizabeth Proud, they feature stellar casts including Miriam Margolyes, Hannah Gordon, Samantha Bond, Rebecca Front, Joanna David, Penny Downie and Amanda Root. 

Her best-known novel, Excellent Women, about a clergyman's daughter whose life is disturbed by anthropologists and a handsome naval officer, is read by One Foot in the Grave star Annette Crosbie. It is followed by a bonus biographical drama, The Resurrection of Miss Pym, starring Penelope Wilton and Bill Wallis and telling the story of Barbara Pym's warm friendship with Philip Larkin, her years in the publishing wilderness and her eventual triumphant rediscovery. And in the fascinating radio talk Finding a Voice, we hear from the author in her own words as she analyses her inspiration, influences, literary style and why she kept on writing 'even in the face of discouragement'.

Cast and credits:

Written by Barbara Pym.

Copyright © Barbara Pym 1950 (Some Tame Gazelle), 1953 (Jane and Prudence), 1958 (A Glass of Blessings), 1961 (No Fond Return of Love), 1987 (So Very Secret).

Crampton Hodnet copyright © Barbara Pym, Hilary Walton 1985, Hazel Holt 2004.

With thanks to the British Library for the sourcing of Crampton Hodnet.

Contents:

Some Tame Gazelle

Crampton Hodnet

Jane and Prudence

A Glass of Blessings

No Fond Return of Love

So Very Secret

Excellent Women

The Resurrection of Miss Pym

Finding a Voice

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

What listeners say about Barbara Pym: A BBC Radio Drama Collection

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Hilarious!

Barbara Pym is still underrated.
This compilation had me chuckling and laughing aloud. A fantastic selection of actors makes this a joy.

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EXCELLENT WITTY GOOD CLEAN FUN A BOUNTY OF A COLLECTION

This is a bounty of a collection for only one credit. 18 & half hours of good clean old fashioned fun from the past, about the middle classes when life was not as paranoid as it is now, but when people still held some parts of religion as the backbone of their lives and kept up with the Jones’s as men and women peeked from behind the lace curtains…

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A great compilation

I love BBC dramas and adore Barbara Pym's novels - so what is not to like! I just wish the compilation included the rest of her books.

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  • Martha Alston
  • 24-05-22

A Wonderful Find

I really enjoyed these adaptations. I have only found one book of Pym’s decently read in full - _Excellent Women_ read by Jayne Entwhistle. So, these adaptations are a joy for me! I hope more and more audio versions of Pym keep coming.

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  • Pinxit
  • 06-05-22

Great for Pym fans!

I mostly enjoyed the radio “stage” adaptations, though I eventually found the frequent musical interludes somewhat intrusive and irritating. At least, unnecessary. The reading of Excellent Women was very good, though the abridgment made the book less rich. I found the letters readings to shed more light on many things, and the very last section, a recording of Barbara Pym herself talking about writing, was illuminating, a treasure! To be listened to again and again

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  • julia de vos
  • 13-04-22

Wonderful Mostly

I enjoyed every minute of this collection. I’ve enjoyed the performers over the years as well, which added to my pleasure. My only complaint is with Excellent Women, read, in this collection, by the superb Annette Crosbie. My objections aren’t with Ms. Crosbie at all. My objections are with the abridgment— so much significant material was omitted— for example, all of William Caldecott; Pyms glorious, asidic description of shoppers freshening up in a rest room; even Mildred Lathbury’s aside to the reader that she, unlike Jane Eyre who also wrote in the first person, should not bring comfort or encouragement to any single, plain female reader. Many more examples illustrating Pym’s style, wit, and observational skill are omitted —all very surprising and disappointing.

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