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Plaque honours forgotten writer Barbara Pym

Oswestry | News | Published:

Shropshire's famous writers include Wilfred Owen, AE Housman and Mary Webb – but author Barbara Pym of Oswestry is something of a forgotten figure in her home county.

Shropshire's famous writers include Wilfred Owen, AE Housman and Mary Webb – but author Barbara Pym of Oswestry is something of a forgotten figure in her home county.

Miss Pym has a huge following in America where her books are acclaimed by critics. She wrote a series of novels such as Some Tame Gazelle, Less Than Angels and A Glass of Blessings during the 1950s and 1960s.

She was regarded as one of the most under-rated writers of her time.

But now a plaque has been set up at her birthplace in Willow Street in Oswestry as a lasting memorial to her after years of campaigning by enthusiasts.

It was unveiled yesterday by crime writer Kate Charles, a former chairman of the Barbara Pym Society.

It is hoped the memorial will give momentum to fresh interest in Pym's work and attract tourists from across the Atlantic to Oswestry.

Barbara Pym was born at 72 Willow Street. It was demolished in the 1960s as part of a clearance which later provided a site for the Willowgate flats.

Her father, Frederic Pym, had a solicitor's practice across the road in Willow Street where his brass plate 'Crampton Pym and Lewis' still hangs.

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She wrote her first novel Some Tame Gazelle, when she was 22. She had a long break from writing between 1963 and 1977 but interest in her work was revived when two prominent writers, Lord David Cecil and Philip Larkin, nominated her as 'the most underrated writer of the 20th century' in the times Literary Supplement.

She died after a battle with breast cancer in 1980 aged 66.

Miss Charles said: that with the current interest in the 1950s and retro, the novelist's books had now been re-published.

She said: "She is my favourite writer of all time. She has a real insight into life – life that she observed in a provincial town like Oswestry.

"Her work is believable and funny."

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