V. S. Pritchett Biography

V. S. Pritchett Biography

V. S. Pritchett Biography & Literary Works

Date of Birth December 16, 1900
Birth Place Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Date of Death March 20, 1997
Cause of Death Stroke
Burial Place Hanwell Cemetery, London, England
Age 96
Literary Age/Era 20th Century / Modernist Era
Education Alleyn’s School, London
Love Affair N/A
Matrimonial Life Married Twice
Spouse Dorothy Rudge Roberts (1927-1956), Dorothy Harley (1963-1997)
Children Oliver Pritchett, Rose Pritchett
Major Events in Life Worked as a journalist in Paris and Spain, Appointed a Companion of Honour (1993)
First Publication “Marching Spain” (1928)
Last Publication “A Careless Widow and Other Stories” (1989)
Posthumous Publication Various collections of letters and unpublished works
Famous Quotation “The mark of genius is an incessant activity of mind.”

V. S. Pritchett Biography


Victor Sawdon Pritchett, known as V. S. Pritchett, was born on December 16, 1900, in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. His father was an unsuccessful businessman, which led the family to move frequently during Pritchett’s childhood.

Pritchett attended Alleyn’s School in London but left at age 15 to work in the leather trade. He later moved to Paris and Spain to work as a journalist, which influenced much of his early writing. Pritchett married twice and had two children, Oliver and Rose.

Pritchett lived a long and prolific life, contributing significantly to literature as a writer, critic, and biographer. He passed away on March 20, 1997, at 96.


V. S. Pritchett had several close friends and acquaintances who played significant roles in his life and literary career. Some notable individuals among his circle of friends include:

Graham Greene: The acclaimed author and Pritchett shared a mutual respect for work, often corresponding and discussing literature.

Evelyn Waugh: Pritchett and Waugh had a professional relationship; both were prominent figures in their time’s literary world.

Elizabeth Bowen: Bowen and Pritchett were friends and contemporaries, often engaging in literary discussions and critiques.

Anthony Burgess: The author of “A Clockwork Orange” was a friend of Pritchett, and they shared a mutual admiration for their respective literary contributions.


He attended Alleyn’s School in London but left formal education at 15. Despite his limited formal education, he became a self-taught scholar. Through his extensive reading and travels, he developed a deep understanding of literature, languages, and cultures.

Journalistic Beginnings

Pritchett’s initial career was in journalism. He started as a clerk in a leather company before moving to Paris to work as a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. His experiences as a journalist honed his observational skills and narrative techniques, which he later used in his fiction and non-fiction works.

Teaching and Influence

Later in his life, Pritchett became a prominent figure in literary education. He taught at several universities, including Princeton and Cambridge, and influenced many young writers and scholars. His insights into literature and storytelling have had a lasting impact on the literary community.

Recognition and Honors

Throughout his career, Pritchett received numerous accolades and honours. He was knighted in 1975 for his services to literature, and his work was recognized with various literary awards. His work continues to be celebrated for contributing to fiction and literary criticism.

Autobiographical Works

Pritchett wrote several autobiographical works that provide insight into his life and times. Notable among these are “A Cab at the Door” and “Midnight Oil,” which chronicle his early life and formative years, portraying his experiences and the development of his literary career.

 Literary Career

Pritchett began his literary career as a journalist, reporting from Paris and Spain. His first book, “Marching Spain,” was published in 1928. He became known for his short stories, essays, and biographies, with a writing style characterized by keen observation and wit.

Pritchett’s notable works include his autobiography “A Cab at the Door” (1968) and “The Spanish Temper” (1954), which reflect his deep connection with Spanish culture. His short stories, such as those in “The Camberwell Beauty” (1974), are highly regarded for their insight into human nature.

He also wrote acclaimed biographies of literary figures, including “Balzac” (1973) and “Chekhov” (1988). Pritchett received numerous honours, including being appointed a Companion of Honor in 1993.


V. S. Pritchett’s religious views were not prominent in his public life or work. However, his writings often reflect a profound moral and philosophical inquiry into human nature and society, suggesting a contemplative and analytical approach to life and its meaning.


Pritchett’s work was generally well-received and avoided significant controversy throughout his career. His reputation as a fair and insightful critic and his ability to portray human nature with empathy and nuance contributed to his respected status in the literary community.


V. S. Pritchett died on March 20, 1997, from a stroke. He was buried in Hanwell Cemetery, London, England. His work lives on through extensive writing, which remains influential and admired in the literary world.

Literary Works

Marching Spain (1928)
Genre: Travel Literature

Description: This book recounts Pritchett’s experiences walking across Spain, providing descriptions of the landscape and insights into Spanish culture and traditions.

The Spanish Temper (1954)
Genre: Non-Fiction

Description: This book reflects Pritchett’s fascination with Spain, offering an insightful analysis of Spanish culture, history, and character based on his extensive travels and observations.

A Cab at the Door (1968)
Genre: Autobiography

Description: The first volume of Pritchett’s autobiography details his early life and the formative experiences that shaped his literary career.

Balzac (1973)
Genre: Biography

Description: This biography of the French novelist Honoré de Balzac is a comprehensive and engaging account of Balzac’s life and work, reflecting Pritchett’s deep understanding of literature.

The Camberwell Beauty (1974)
Genre: Short Stories

Description: A collection of short stories that showcase Pritchett’s skill in capturing the intricacies of human relationships and the subtleties of everyday life.

Chekhov (1988)
Genre: Biography

Description: In this biography of the Russian playwright and short story writer Anton Chekhov, Pritchett examines Chekhov’s life, his literary achievements, and his enduring influence on modern literature.

Pritchett’s keen observational skills, versatility in writing, and significant contributions to fiction and literary criticism mark his life and work.

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