Paula Byrne was born in Birkenhead and has a PhD from the University of Liverpool, where she is a Research Fellow in English Literature. Her first book, Jane Austen and the Theatre, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize. Her second book, Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson , the tale of the scandalous star of the 18th-century stage, literature and high-society, was a Richard and Judy bookclub pick. Her most recent book is Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. The story of Evelyn Waugh's friendship with the extraordinary aristocratic family who inspired Brideshead Revisited, it was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. A regular contributor to the 'Times Literary Supplement', she lives in Warwickshire with her two young children and her husband, the critic and biographer Jonathan Bate.
'Byrne's comprehensive biography ... is unlikely to be bettered
... This is an elegant, incisive and sympathetic biography that
deepens our understanding of Pym ... Byrne succeeds admirably'
'Engrossing ... The chapters are enticingly short, and I romped
through them. Each adds a vital piece of the jigsaw, explaining the
provenance of her fictional characters and building up our
understanding of [her] state of mind ... It's a delight to meet her
again in these pages'
'Light-hearted and lively ... Byrne is an excellent literary
detective, tracing acquaintances directly into the novels. The
author seems to have been as fun, clever and kind as her best
Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times
'Illuminating ... Byrne sees what fun Pym was, how much she
liked and was fascinated by people ... and has done us a great
service in exploring this very unusual personality ... This, like
its subject's best books, rewards reading and re-reading'
'Both hilarious and heartbreaking ... Byrne is beautifully savvy
about her subject's fiction ... as a manifesto for her genius, it
is gloriously persuasive'
'Byrne's book is outstanding ... Just like a Pym novel, this
biography is warm, funny, unexpected and deeply moving'
'Excellent ... Byrne's book is the first to integrate its
revelations into a cradle-to-grave biography'
Guardian, Book of the Week
'Outstanding ... meticulously researched, affectionate and
fascinating in equal measure'
'Wonderfully attentive and touching ... Byrne's book is such a
joy. It refreshes the parts other biographies simply cannot
'Barbara Pym is one of my most favourite novelists. Few other
writers have given me more laughter and more pleasure. I am
therefore enchanted that this biography by Paul Byrne captures both
Barbara and her writing so miraculously'