Barbara Pym (1913-80) was born in Shropshire and educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford. When in 1977 the TLS asked critics to name the most underrated authors of the past 75 years, only one was named twice (by Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil): Barbara Pym. Her novels are characterised by what Anne Tyler has called 'the heartbreaking silliness of everyday life'.
With an introduction by Alexander McCall Smith One did not drink sherry before the evening, just as one did not read a novel in the morning. In 1970s London Edwin, Norman, Letty and Marcia work in the same office and suffer the same problem - loneliness. Lovingly and with delightful humour, Pym conducts us through their day-to-day existence: their preoccupations, their irritations, their judgements, and - perhaps most keenly felt - their worries about having somehow missed out on life as post-war Britain shifted around them. Deliciously, blackly funny and full of obstinate optimism, Quartet in Autumn shows Barbara Pym's sensitive artistry at its most sparkling. A classic from one of Britain's most loved and highly acclaimed novelists, its world is both extraordinary and familiar, revealing the eccentricities of everyday life.