V. S. Pritchett

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Pritchett, V. S.

(Victor Sawdon Pritchett) (prĭch`ĭt), 1900–1997, British writer, b. Ipswich. Largely self-educated, he was a distinguished and prolific man of letters who began his career as a freelance journalist and was a foreign correspondent during the 1920s. An excellent craftsman, Pritchett had a fine wit, a sense for the ironic and darkly comic, and a talent for portraying the oddities of character. His fiction is usually peopled by members of England's lower middle class, a world of shopkeepers, salesmen, and clerks. He is best known for his brilliantly insightful short stories, which were collected in many volumes, including The Spanish Temper (1954), Blind Love (1969), and Complete Collected Stories (1991). Also a novelist, he is particularly noted for the last of his five novels, Mr. Beluncle (1951), the tale of a Puritan eccentric. Pritchett was a respected literary critic, e.g., The Tale Bearers (1980), and biographer, e.g., Balzac (1973) and Chekhov (1988), and also penned lively travel writing. He was knighted in 1975.


See his memoirs, A Cab at the Door (1968) and Midnight Oil (1971); biography by J. Treglown (2005).

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There are of course limitations to this genial humanism, as one readily sees in our tolerant age--which propagates not only diverting fantastics but also willful monsters--but it served V. S. Pritchett well, and one is grateful for his contribution to the tradition of unassuming English moral heroism.