Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present
Standard Name: Lively, Penelope
Birth Name: Penelope Margaret Low
Married Name: Penelope Margaret Lively
, who published her first book in 1970, began writing for children before moving on to adult novels, stories, a non-fictional account of landscape as record of history, and to memoirs in which, again, her broad, socially- and politically-inflected contexts for personal reminiscence bring her close to writing the history of cultural change. Through her work in various genres her concerns remain constant: she is deeply interested in both place and time. She sets most of her fiction in intensely-realised rural settings (with one memorable account of London). Her child protagonists often feel the unaccountable survival of the past in the present; her adult ones tend to be re-evaluating their own past, often in the light of death or change.
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This became BP
's most widely-reviewed text, and received a mixed reception. Robert Liddell
was again outraged, calling this a dreadful book which had only been made possible by the betrayal of Pym's friends in...
British reviews were good (Penelope Lively
was typical, finding it extremely clever and highly entertaining)
Stannard, Martin. Muriel Spark. The Biography. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2009.
and American ones even better, but Spark was disappointed that almost none of them picked up on...
considered this an intriguing tale, not least in its evocation of idyllic summers and icy winters.
Whiteside, Shirley. “Novels of Recent History”. Mslexia, No. 28, p. 50.
called it vibrant with detail—not imported furnishings or obtrusive historical facts but detail...
, writing in Encounter, responded positively to the way the novel charts the pattern of relationships and reactions that emerge among a disparate group of people flung together by circumstance, and especially...
in A House Unlocked, 2001, quotes extensively from this book, calling it starkly revealing . . . a tapestry of misery, fortitude, outrage and adaptability.
Lively, Penelope. A House Unlocked. Penguin, 2002.
Reviews were mixed. The San Francisco Chronicle called this a tour-de-force of its kind,, a little jewel of horror. The Times Literary Supplement dismissed it as surprisingly sentimental and not a very original story...
Several recent feminist critics have linked SM
with other well-known literary names of the twentieth century: Caroline Guerin
considered her alongside Iris Murdoch
in Literature and Theology: An International Journal of Theory, Criticism and Culture...
The job of tutor, which made high demands in time and energy, brought her into face-to-face contact with a series of extremely able young women. She was unconventional and memorable as a teacher. Her students...
By the date of her retirement BP
had suffered a decade of rejection of her writing. She now sought other activities, like joining the Finstock Local History Society
. She was also a preliminary judge...
In 2017 both KS
and Penelope Lively
were approached by Penguin
to select under-appreciated works for inclusion in a series of forgotten classics by female British authors in recognition of the centenary passing of Representation...
was a distinguished, understatedly comic novelist of the twentieth century, whose autobiographical writings (diaries, letters, and notebooks) were published only after her death.
Wyatt-Brown, Anne M. Barbara Pym: A Critical Biography. University of Missouri Press, 1992.
Pym, Barbara. “Editorial Materials”. A Very Private Eye, edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym, Macmillan, 1984, p. various pages.
Having achieved moderate success during her early career...
Pym is not one of those women writers whose stock has risen through feminist re-evaluation. Five years after the influential Times Literary Supplement article was published, Penelope Lively
wrote, I am always surprised that the...
Another element that makes her hard to place is her comedy. Though her work has been likened to that of Drabble
(both her champions) her place is rather with out-and-out satirists like Angela Thirkell
For the London Review of Books, PB
dealt with books by women both in her first review (on 8 November 1979, one month before the magazine first carried one of her poems), where she...