PRITCHETT, Sir Victor Sawdon 1900-1997. Writer. VS Pritchett was a master of the short story, a travel writer, novelist, biographer, journalist and critic. Born in Ipswich, his father was a Micawber like character, shopkeeper and travelling salesman; the title of Pritchett’s autobiography, ‘A Cab at the Door’, derives from the numerous homes they vacated due to financial problems. In a more prosperous interlude, the family lived at 200 Clive Road; and he attended Rosendale Road School. His father’s business partner paid for him to go to Alleyn’s, where he stayed for two years, 1914 to 1916. Whilst there he decided on a writing career, and afterwards took a great interest in the school. On his last visit, he presented his handwritten first page of his autobiography.

The family moved to Bromley, and Pritchett had to leave school at 15 and went into the leather trade in Bermondsey. At 21 he left for Paris, and at times had to sell books he had collected to survive (two volumes equalled a meagre meal). He landed a job as a journalist for Christian Science Monitor in Ireland, and later in Spain. The people he met and countries visited gave him the material for his writings, which are distinguished by their wide social range, shrewd observation of the quirks of human nature and humane irony. 

Patrick Spencer