Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Victor Sawden Pritchett (PRIHCH-iht) was a master of the short story. He was born near London of lower-middle-class parents. Owing to his father’s lack of business sense, the family moved constantly from house to house, from one set of relatives to another. The father, who usually worked as a traveling salesman, dominated his undernourished wife and children, and his conversion to Christian Science caused frequent family quarrels. At school, Pritchett was a mediocre student except in shorthand, French, and German. His hopes of attending a university were shattered when, just before his sixteenth birthday, he was abruptly taken out of school and made an apprentice in the leather trade. His long-smoldering ambition to become a writer led him to abandon his job and move to France in 1921.
In Paris Pritchett lived meagerly and mingled with modest working people. In his leisure he walked indefatigably, read voraciously, and tried to write. Eventually he had some articles accepted by The Christian Science Monitor, which could not pay him because of its financial troubles in Boston. After nearly starving to death, Pritchett returned to England. The newspaper’s London editor promptly sent him to Ireland to write a series of articles on the civil war. Since he knew nothing about politics, he indulged his passions for the countryside, the theater,...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Victor Sawden Pritchett was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, of middle-class parents. His father, Walter, a Yorkshireman, espoused a strict Congregationalism. He married Beatrice of London, whom he had met when both worked in a draper’s shop. Enthralled by wild business schemes, Walter often left his family for months as he pursued dreams that shattered and left the family destitute, forcing it into innumerable moves and frequent sharing of flats with relatives. Often a traveling salesman, Pritchett’s father, despite his long absences, caused the family unmitigated misery when he returned. Pritchett’s dictatorial father is reflected in many of his stories and novels, and Pritchett is completely frank in his autobiography about his father’s brutality.
Most remarkable, Pritchett received only the barest of formal training at Alleyn’s Grammar School, which he left when he was only sixteen to enter the leather trade. Clever with languages, he soon showed proficiency in French. He read omnivorously. In his stories, he reflects a cerebral ability, perceptiveness, and imagism. Despite his lack of formal training in literature, he is, in the twentieth century, considered to be one of the best writers of the short story in England. In 1975, he was knighted as Sir Victor for his contributions to literature.
After working in the leather trade for several years as a tanner, he left for a two-year interlude in Paris. Those years as a tanner...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
In December of 1900, in lodgings over a toy shop in Ipswich, England, Victor Sawdon Pritchett was born, the first child of Beatrice Martin and Walter Pritchett, who had met in the milliner’s shop where they both worked. The marriage apparently began passionately, three children following quickly after Victor, but because of Walter’s many business misadventures and his conversion to Christian Science, the marriage was soon unsettled and its passion converted to quarrelsomeness. Although the Pritchetts were not shiftless, their household was often shifted about: By the time Pritchett was twelve, the family had moved around London at least fourteen times, usually so that Walter Pritchett could escape creditors, twice to hide his bankruptcy. Beatrice Pritchett lived in constant fear of creditors (once denying her identity on opening the door to an officer attempting to serve a writ) and in outspoken jealousy of the “other women” in her husband’s life—his mother, his business partner (“Miss H”), and Mary Baker Eddy (founder of the Christian Science Church).
Because the family never stayed in one place for long, Pritchett felt that he belonged nowhere, that he was an outsider everywhere but in his own, rather strange, family. In addition to moving with his parents, he was sent at intervals to his grandparents in Yorkshire, an arrangement contrived, apparently, to ease the burden on Walter Pritchett’s purse. New problems complicated their home...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
V. S. Pritchett (PRIH-chiht) was born into a middle-class family on December 16, 1900, in Ipswich, England. He was the firstborn son of Walter Pritchett, a Yorkshireman, and Beatrice Martin, a Londoner. Within six years three other children, Cyril, Kathleen, and Gordon, were born. The Pritchett family led miserable lives inasmuch as Walter possessed an unstable nature, indulging in frequent job changes and forcing his family into an itinerant life of moving from one relative’s home to another. (Although unwilling to discuss much of his private life, Pritchett referred to the negative, and sometimes brutal, aspects of his father in his autobiographies and fiction.)
Pritchett attended Alleyn’s Grammar School for two years and at sixteen left the classroom to enter the leather trade. This experience, providing him with ample opportunity to meet British people of all classes, was an invaluable one for his future writing. At twenty-one Pritchett, tiring of the business routine, left for Paris, where he lived for two years, working in a photography supply company. His penchant for languages was evident at an early age; in Paris he further perfected his French. Always an omnivorous reader, he immersed himself in reading French writers in French and also began to read Russian literature, especially authors such as Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy,...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
V. S. Pritchett’s impact on the world of literature rests on his many and varied short stories. They encompass eccentric characters, multifarious settings, and appealing “plots” through which he develops a microcosm of society. Life is filled with challenges, a theme he developed in his short fiction, but the most significant is the interrelationship of people who must compromise with others or come to terms with their own foibles and flaws. With ironic satire and wry humor, Pritchett genially fashioned his world of fiction through Joycean epiphanies. Many of his eccentrics never glean insights into the human soul, but those who do live their fates with mutual tolerance toward their acquaintances, families, and friends. V. S. Pritchett transformed the ordinary into the sublime.
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