Some Tame Gazelle

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Some Tame Gazelle is Barbara Pym's début novel, first published in 1950. It is considered a remarkable first novel, because of the way in which the youthful Pym - who began the book while a student at Oxford before World War II - imagined herself into the situation of a middle-aged spinster, living with her sister in the country.

Plot summary

Many of the characters in the book are based on Pym's own circle, as she pictured them in twenty or thirty years' time. The two heroines, Belinda and Harriet Bede, are Barbara herself and her sister, Hilary, and Archdeacon Hoccleve, a married clergyman for whom Belinda has long nurtured a passion, is believed to be based on Pym's first love, Henry Harvey.[1] In the course of the book, both sisters receive proposals of marriage which they feel obliged to reject, partly because they are not attracted to the men in question, but mainly because they are so used to living together and have become devoted to one another. In fact, Barbara and her sister did end up living together in a quiet village in Oxfordshire.

Barbara Pym's friend, British writer Robert Liddell, appears in the novel in the guise of Dr. Nicholas Parnell.[1]

Another character, Count Riccardo Bianco, is based on the real-life count and academic, Roberto Weiss. [2]


Long, Robert Emmet (1986). Barbara Pym. New York: Ungar. p. 8. ISBN 0-8044-2545-0. 

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