Jane and Prudence

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Jane and Prudence
Jane and Prudence.jpg
Recent paperback cover
Author Barbara Pym
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 222 pp (hardback edition)
ISBN 978-1-84408-449-4[1]
OCLC 166627476

Jane and Prudence is a novel by Barbara Pym, first published in 1953 and, according to the novelist Jilly Cooper, her finest work - "full of wit, plotting, characterization and miraculous observation".[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Jane, a vicar's wife, lives a very different kind of life from her friend, the single and independent Prudence. The book details the period in Nicholas and Jane’s life when they take over a new parish in an (anonymous) English village and encounter the widower Fabian Driver, who Jane decides will make an excellent husband for Prudence.[3] Prudence has an imponderable attraction to her older and completely impervious employer, the head of an unspecified academic foundation. There is, however, competition for Fabian - Miss Morrow, another spinster in the parish who seeks escape from her low-paid job as a companion to the domineering Miss Doggett.

Miss Morrow and Miss Doggett also appear in Pym's posthumously-published novel, Crampton Hodnet, which had been written in the late 1930s; the character of Miss Morrow is distinctly different in Jane and Prudence, as is that of Barbara Bird, also re-used from Crampton Hodnet.[4]


  • Jane a good hearted Vicar’s wife in her 40th year
  • Nicholas, her mild mannered husband
  • Flora, their despairing teenage daughter
  • Prudence 29 a beautiful and elegant spinster[5]
  • Fabian, a vain and self-obsessed widower
  • Miss Doggett, a tyrannical old lady
  • Miss Morrow, her outwardly meek but calculating companion[6]


Jane and Prudence was adapted for radio and first broadcast in 2008. Penelope Wilton was the narrator, Emma Fielding played Prudence and Susie Blake Jane. Miss Doggett was played by Elizabeth Spriggs.[7]


  1. ^ Reprinted by Virago Press on 6 December 2007
  2. ^ "If you want a great read Barbara Pym will fix it" - article in "Seven" p3, Sunday Telegraph Issue 2,425 (dated 3 December 2007)
  3. ^ For an evaluation of this setting see Chapter 4 Jane and Prudence in "Reading Barbara Pym" Donato,D. Ch 4 pp81-101 Maddison, N.J Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003 ISBN 0-8386-4095-8
  4. ^ Yvonne Cocking, "Jane and Prudence: a Novel of Contrasts", Paper presented at the 14th North American Conference of the Barbara Pym Society Cambridge, Massachusetts, 17–18 March 2012. Accessed 13 February 2013
  5. ^ An analysis of her inner qualities is found in Barbara Pym and Anthony Trollope: Communities of Imaginative Participation Heberlein,K.B in "Pacific Coast Philology", Vol. 19, No. 1/2 (Nov., 1984), pp. 95-100
  6. ^ These last two characters resurface in Crampton Hodnet where they are ensconced in academic Oxford-article The importance of literature in the novels of Barbara Pym Ackley,K.A pp33-46 in "All this reading: the literary world of Barbara Pym" Lenckos,F.E./. Miller,E.J.(Ed) Maddison, N.J Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003 ISBN 0-8386-3956-9
  7. ^ BBC Media Centre. Accessed 9 June 2013

External links[edit]