Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Where (BP)

The Barbara Pym Walking Tour is available for download.

The following quotations, written in places that had an impact on the author, are taken from Barbara Pym’s A Very Private Eye: An Autobiography in Diaries and Letters , edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym. (NY: E.P. Dutton Inc, 1984).

I think we may get a little flat in the autumn as it would really be more convenient than rooms. We can’t cook anything here and there isn’t much space to put things. But we are very happy and the people in the house are nice and we are near Marble Arch and Hyde Park and Oxford Street (and the Edgware Road which is not a very nice district for two young women to wander about in late at night). (Letter, 11 May 1939)

From the ship layers of orange and pink and biscuit coloured buildings and in the evening a mass of twinkling lights. No smells for the first week as I had a cold, but afterwards many smells and dirty bits of paper in the streets – and occasionally a good smell, incense or perfume passing a barber’s shop. The people, rather ragged and dirty but some girls nicely dressed and pretty, nearly all wearing shoes with very high wedge heels – many priests. (Journals 1944)

Lisbon, Hotel Metropole.
Near the Moorish style railway station. Dark little room looking into a well. I can see them washing up at 11 o’clock at night. The lower part of the walls covered with striped canvas like luggage (it’s like living in a suitcase), the dim light and the grey iron bedstead like a French film. Setting for a Graham Greene novel. (1954 Journals)

Heard cuckoo in Delphi. Sensational ride to Lamia through the mountains – pass of Thermopylae. As we get down into the straight road to Lamia after the slow grinding climbs and descents, the driver (who looks like a younger, benevolent Stalin) sounds his horn in triumphant paeans and the radio is blaring full blast. Lamia. Plastic doves are being sold in the square and on the back corner of the Hotel Achillia there is a stork’s or pelican’s nest with young. The conductor on the bus sniffs a red carnation, two elderly men sit at a table with a gardenia between them. (1966 Journals)


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