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Penelope Lively

Author of Moon Tiger

73+ Works 13,155 Members 470 Reviews 45 Favorited

About the Author

Penelope Lively has written over 18 books for children, and over 15 titles for adults, distinguishing herself on both levels. Among the awards she has received are the coveted Booker Prize for the adult novel "Moon Tiger" (1987) and the Carnegie Medal for the highly acclaimed juvenile work, "The show more Ghost of Thomas Kempe" (1973). In Lively's writing, for both adults and children, the recurrent theme is interpreting the past through exploring the function of memory. "My particular preoccupation as a writer is with memory. Both with memory in the historical sense and memory in the personal sense." Beginning her writing career in the early 1970's, Lively wrote exclusively for children for over a decade. Because children have limited memories, devices were used to explore their perceptions of the past, such as ghosts in "Uninvited Ghosts and Other Stories" (1985), and a sampler in "A Stitch in Time' (1976). Lively's first adult novel, "The Road to Lichfield" (1977) was the result of turning to an older audience when she felt inspiration running out. Her adult novels include "Passing On" (1995), the story of a mother's legacy to her children and 'Oleander, Jacarandi: A Childhood Perceived' (1994) which is a memoir of Lively's childhood. Penelope (Low) Lively, born March 17, 1933 in Cairo, Egypt, had a most unusual childhood. She grew up in Cairo with no formal education until age 12, when her family put her in boarding school in England. After earning a B.A. in history at Oxford in 1955, she married Jack Lively, a university professor, whom she calls her most useful critic. They have a son and a daughter, Adam and Josephine. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Penelope Lively

Works by Penelope Lively

Moon Tiger (1987) 2,162 copies
The Photograph (2003) 1,371 copies
How It All Began (2011) 969 copies
Consequences (2007) 701 copies
Family Album (2009) — Author — 654 copies
The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973) 504 copies
Passing On (1989) 428 copies
Heat Wave (1996) 391 copies
City of the Mind (1991) 386 copies
Making It Up (2005) 353 copies
Spiderweb (1998) 332 copies
Cleopatra's Sister (1993) 310 copies
The Road to Lichfield (1977) 286 copies
Life in the Garden (2017) 277 copies
A Stitch in Time (1976) 236 copies
According to Mark (1984) 226 copies
A House Unlocked (2001) 226 copies
The House in Norham Gardens (1974) 201 copies
Judgement Day (1980) 190 copies
Treasures of Time (1979) 148 copies
The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy (1971) 136 copies
Perfect Happiness (1983) 136 copies
The Whispering Knights (1971) 128 copies
Astercote (1970) 124 copies
Going Back (1975) 111 copies
A Long Night at Abu Simbel (1995) 106 copies
Next to Nature, Art (1982) 98 copies
The Driftway (1972) 83 copies
The Voyage of QV66 (1978) 78 copies
Dragon Trouble (1984) 50 copies
One, Two, Three, Jump! (1999) 38 copies
Fanny and the Monsters (1982) 31 copies
A House Inside Out (1988) 23 copies
Good Night, Sleep Tight (1994) 13 copies
Picador New Writing: Vol 10 (2001) 11 copies
Presence of the Past (1657) 8 copies
A Martian Comes to Stay (1995) 7 copies
Corruption (1984) 7 copies
Fanny's Sister (1976) 6 copies
Boy Without a Name (1975) 6 copies
Abroad (Penguin Specials) (2013) 4 copies
Život v zahradě (2019) 1 copy
Family Album — Author — 1 copy
Summer Heat 1 copy
Judy and the Martian (1993) 1 copy
Virago Ghost Stories (1992) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Age of Innocence (1920) — Introduction, some editions — 13,755 copies
The Stone Diaries (1993) — Introduction, some editions — 5,762 copies
The Lantern Bearers (1959) — Introduction, some editions — 1,287 copies
Birds of America (1971) — Introduction, some editions — 345 copies
The Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories (2000) — Contributor — 294 copies
Granta 65: London (1999) — Contributor — 222 copies
The Virago Book of Ghost Stories (2006) — Contributor — 138 copies
The Random House Book of Ghost Stories (1991) — Contributor — 135 copies
The Penguin Book of Modern Women's Short Stories (1990) — Contributor — 99 copies
The Literary Ghost: Great Contemporary Ghost Stories (1991) — Contributor — 75 copies
The Oxford Book of Travel Stories (1996) — Contributor — 74 copies
A Late Beginner (1966) — Preface, some editions — 71 copies
The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century Ghost Stories (1996) — Contributor — 70 copies
Granta 140: State of Mind (2017) — Contributor — 58 copies
Spooky Stories for a Dark and Stormy Night (1945) — Contributor — 35 copies
Slightly Foxed 4: Now we're shut in for the night (2004) — Contributor — 32 copies
Slightly Foxed 21: All Washed Up (2009) — Contributor — 27 copies
Slightly Foxed 69: The Pram in the Hall (2010) — Contributor — 26 copies
In the Garden (2021) — Author — 21 copies
Slightly Foxed 57: A Crowning Achievement (2018) — Contributor — 20 copies
Slightly Foxed 42: Small World (2014) — Contributor — 16 copies
Good Housekeeping Short Story Collection (1997) — Contributor — 15 copies
The Wrong Turning: Encounters with Ghosts (2021) — Contributor — 13 copies
A Distant Cry: Stories from East Anglia (2002) — Contributor — 12 copies
The Puffin Book of Ghosts and Ghouls (1992) — Contributor — 11 copies
To Break the Silence (1986) — Contributor — 9 copies
Snapshots (1995) — Contributor — 6 copies
Young Winter's Tales 6 (1975) — Contributor — 1 copy


1001 (140) 1001 books (144) 19th century (144) 20th century (392) American (281) American literature (473) anthology (129) British (265) British literature (127) Canada (179) Canadian (151) children's (194) classic (495) classics (599) ebook (144) Egypt (152) England (285) English literature (136) family (174) fantasy (162) fiction (4,857) historical fiction (411) Kindle (130) literary fiction (152) literature (506) marriage (153) memoir (206) New York (333) New York City (137) novel (713) own (163) Pulitzer (217) Pulitzer Prize (350) read (386) romance (235) short stories (326) to-read (1,699) unread (178) women (183) WWII (171)

Common Knowledge

Other names
Lively, Penelope Low
Cairo, Egypt
Places of residence
Sussex, England, UK
London, England, UK
Cairo, Egypt
University of Oxford (St Anne's College)
short-story writer
Lively, Jack (husband)
Lively, Adam (son)
The Society of Authors
Awards and honors
Order of the British Empire (Officer, 1989)
Order of the British Empire (Commander, 2001)
Fellow, Royal Society of Literature
Order of the British Empire (Dame Commander, 2012)
David Higham Associates
Short biography
Novelist and children's writer Penelope Lively was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1933 and brought up there. She came to England in 1945, went to school in Sussex, and read Modern History at St Ann's College, Oxford. Penelope Lively contributes regularly to a number of national daily newspapers and literary and educational journals including the Sunday Times, The Observer and the Times Educational Supplement. She has written radio and television scripts and was presenter for a BBC Radio 4 programme on children's literature. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a member of PEN and a former Chairman of The Society of Authors. She was awarded an OBE in 1989 and a CBE in 2001.



BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE - JANUARY 2015; LIVELY & ISHIGURO in 75 Books Challenge for 2015 (March 2015)


I was disappointed with this Penelope Lively. The action involves a family of two parents, six children and Ingrid, a long-standing mother's help. There are family secrets. Penelope Lively shows a family where the children are a unit, separate from their parents. They mostly leave home as soon as they can and just occasionally return, with the exception of the oldest, Paul, who struggles to hold down a job. The father is a shadowy figure, mostly in his study writing books. The mother and Ingrid spend all their hours in the kitchen and the garden. For the mother the family is everything. Only Gina, the second eldest, really comes alive at all for me. The adult children have a chapter and an internal monologue but so much of this has no depth.… (more)
CarolKub | 40 other reviews | Jan 18, 2024 |
very good, 3.5 - but I have to say I'm curious about whom Penelope bases the complete drips of husbands that adorn her novels on! In a chat on this general subject in "How It All Began" one of the characters refers to them as lettuces, and it does seem to fit, though rather old, limp and smelly lettuces. The women are cleaver, interesting and complex and the story carries quite well, as they tolerate their burden of boring men. It seems lovers are the only male characters that are not desperately lame, but in this work even this only applies to some lovers, the character of Jeremy intersects with both groups and definitely deserves segregation to the husband phenotype.

The digs at The Da Vinci Code, including on the cover photo of this edition, are fun.

Although I enjoyed it I doubt I'll ever read it again.
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diveteamzissou | 62 other reviews | Jan 1, 2024 |
4.5 stars- just wonderful. Penelope’s extraordinary prose makes everyday events glow with reality and importance. As usual her lead character, Annie, is someone you wish you knew. I guess a couple of things Annie does are odd and don’t quite ring true with the rest of her character- one is her choice of husband. The other will be clear to you upon finishing.
diveteamzissou | 7 other reviews | Nov 28, 2023 |
A tale from the early 1970s with a supernatural element. Lucy who is about 12 years old goes to stay with her aunt for the summer in a country village. She hasn't been back for seven years so her expectations that childhood friends would have remained the same are overturned when the two girls she played with have become horse-mad and are uninterested in anything else, and the boy Kester is initially standoffish. However, she and Kester do eventually reinvent their friendship but by then a subtle thread of disquiet has crept into village life with the discovery by the vicar of an old ritual involving a 'dance' by men and boys dressed in stag antlers and masks. Despite the grumbles by older residents who oppose its return, and hint at dire consequences - the Wild Hunt of folklore is alluded to early on - rehearsals begin for the forthcoming village fete, and the boys begin to turn on Kester who is an outsider now that he goes to a grammar school and doesn't want to continue the family tradition of working as a blacksmith, his uncle being the last of a dying breed in the whole district.

Despite the statement on the back cover that this is suitable for children of ages 11 - 14, it reads as being for a younger age group, possibly because the character relationships belong to a more 'innocent' age when girls and boys of that age could be friends without any sexual overtones. Also, although the countryside is well evoked and there is the odd moment of supernatural tension, the potential of what could be a dangerous and murderous intent by the boys in the vein of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, is never allowed to become really threatening and even the supernatural element is defused in the finale so it isn't really disturbing and compared to modern day YA fiction such as 'The Hunger Games' series or the 'Noughts and Crosses' books or even 'His Dark Materials' comes across as more suitable for the 8 -10 year age range.
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kitsune_reader | 1 other review | Nov 23, 2023 |


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