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Barbara Pym: Excellent Women and Quartet In Autumn

May 10 - May 31, 2023, Wednesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m, (4 sessions)
925 SW Washington Street Portland, OR 97205


“A list of furniture is not a good beginning to a letter, though I dare say a clever person with a fantastic turn of mind could transform even a laundry list into a poem.”

Mildred Lathbury, the “excellent woman” at the heart of Barbara Pym’s 1952 comedy of manners, is full of such opinions and wry observations. Over endless cups of tea and in the still battered landscape of a post-WWII London, Mildred navigates life as a single, 30-something woman in a society that is not always kind to her kind. Pym is such a perceptive writer, creating characters that speak to larger themes of loneliness, relationships, and class, always with a deep humanity. And she’s intellectually confident, a quality with which she imbues Mildred.

Excellent Women is often suggested as the Pym book to start with. Philip Larkin loved the book too, and was an ardent supporter of Pym’s, intent on convincing the “literary establishment” stories like the ones she wrote, in short, women’s stories, mattered. Reading her today, Mildred’s presence is so comforting, her wit so cunning, her observations so hilarious, her world charming, indeed, full. She’s the friend you wish you had on your group text. Excellent Women can be enjoyed purely on a narrative level, but also rewards a closer reading. If you love Hot Priest, Midsomer Murders, drinking tea, questioning life’s purpose, or have opinions about Hawaiian Fire lipstick, then you’ll love Pym.

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym

Access Program
We want our classes to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. Our Access Program offers class registrations at a reduced rate. The access program for writing classes covers 60% of the class tuition. Most writing classes have at least one access spot available.

Please apply here for access rate tuition. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you have questions.

Liaison position
Every in-person class and seminar at Literary Arts has one liaison position. Liaisons perform specific duties for each class meeting. If you are a liaison for a class or seminar, the full amount of your tuition is covered by Literary Arts.

Apply here for the liaison position.


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Delve: Excellent Women
$ 160.00
9 available

Veronica Martin

Veronica Martin is a writer based in, and originally from, Portland. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Texas, where she taught creative writing and English. She has also studied journalism, French, and design writing. Her publications include poetry or prose in Fonograf Magazine, Hesperios Journal, Design Week Portland, Tin House, Domino, and Vestoj.
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