Lively, Dame Penelope

Lively, Dame Penelope, 1933–, English novelist, b. Cairo, Egypt, moved to London at 12 when her parents divorced, grad. Oxford (1954). Her earliest books were children's novels—the first Astercote (1970), her best The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973, Carnegie Medal) and A Stitch in Time (1976)—and she has continued to write for children. The Road to Lichfield (1977) was her first adult novel; in it the past changes when remembered from the perspective of the present, a recurring theme of her novels. Moon Tiger (1987, Booker Prize) tells of an elderly history writer's reflections on her own history. Her other novels, less experimental in form, are typically crisply and precisely told tales of the English middle class and its constant changes; they include Treasures of Time (1979), City of the Mind (1991), Cleopatra's Sister (1993), Spiderweb (1998), The Photograph (2003), Consequences (2007), Family Album (2008), and How It All Began (2009). Her short stories are collected in Uninvited Ghosts and Other Stories (1997), The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories (2017), and other volumes.

See her memoir of her childhood in Egypt, Oleander, Jacaranda (1994) and the memoir Dancing Fish and Ammonites (2013); her “antimemoir” Making It Up (2005), which explores what life might have been had certain incidents turned out differently; biography by M. H. Moran (1993); study by A. Arshad (2012).

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