Penelope Lively

Standard Name: Lively, Penelope
Birth Name: Penelope Margaret Low
Married Name: Penelope Margaret Lively
PL , 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.


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Literary responses Barbara Pym
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...
Literary responses Muriel Spark
British reviews were good (Penelope Lively was typical, finding it extremely clever and highly entertaining)
Stannard, Martin. Muriel Spark. The Biography. Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
and American ones even better, but Spark was disappointed that almost none of them picked up on...
Literary responses Helen Dunmore
Shirley Whiteside 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.
Penelope Lively called it vibrant with detail—not imported furnishings or obtrusive historical facts but detail...
Literary responses Penelope Fitzgerald
Penelope Lively , 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...
Literary responses Karen Gershon
Penelope Lively 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.
Literary responses Marghanita Laski
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...
Literary responses Sara Maitland
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...
Literary responses Hilary Mantel
HM already features in critical surveys of the modern British novel, such as that by Nick Rennison , 2004. A. S. Byatt discusses her (among writers of both sexes including predecessors Elizabeth Bowen and Muriel Spark
Occupation Iris Murdoch
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...
Occupation Barbara Pym
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...
Occupation Kamila Shamsie
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...
Author summary Barbara Pym
BP 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.
1-2, 9
Pym, Barbara. “Editorial Materials”. A Very Private Eye, edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym, Macmillan, p. various pages.
Having achieved moderate success during her early career...
Reception Barbara Pym
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...
Reception Barbara Pym
Another element that makes her hard to place is her comedy. Though her work has been likened to that of Drabble and Lively (both her champions) her place is rather with out-and-out satirists like Angela Thirkell
Textual Production Patricia Beer
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...


By 20 June 2000: Jane Nissen, a former editor at Penguin,...

Writing climate item

By 20 June 2000

Jane Nissen , a former editor at Penguin , published the first four titles by Jane Nissen Books , reprints of much-loved children's books of the twentieth century.


Lively, Penelope. “’The World Before Us,’ by Aislinn Hunter”. The New York Times Sunday Book Review.
Lively, Penelope. A House Unlocked. Viking, 2001.
Lively, Penelope. A House Unlocked. Grove Press, 2001.
Lively, Penelope. A House Unlocked. Penguin, 2002.
Lively, Penelope. According to Mark. Heinemann, 1984.
Lively, Penelope. “Alison Light’s ’Common People: In Pursuit of My Ancestors’”. New York Times Sunday Book Review.
Lively, Penelope. Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time. Fig Tree, 2013.
Lively, Penelope, and Antony Maitland. Astercote. Heinemann, 1970.
Lively, Penelope. Beyond the Blue Mountains. Viking, 1997.
Lively, Penelope. City of the Mind. A. Deutsch, 1991.
Lively, Penelope. City of the Mind. HarperCollins, 1991.
Lively, Penelope. Cleopatra’s Sister. Viking, 1993.
Lively, Penelope. Consequences. Fig Tree, 2007.
Lively, Penelope. Corruption. Heinemann, 1984.
Lively, Penelope. Going Back. Heinemann, 1975.
Lively, Penelope. “Guardian Book Club. On writing <span data-tei-ns-tag="tei_title" data-tei-title-lvl=‘m’>Moon Tiger</span&gt”;. The Guardian, p. Review 6.
Lively, Penelope. Heat Wave. Viking, 1996.
Lively, Penelope. Heat Wave. HarperPerennial, 1997.
Lively, Penelope. How It All Began. Penguin, 2011.
Lively, Penelope. How It All Began. Penguin, 2012.
Lively, Penelope. Judgement Day. Heinemann, 1980.
Lively, Penelope. Life in the Garden. Penguin, 2017.
Lively, Penelope. Moon Tiger. A. Deutsch, 1987.
Lively, Penelope. Next to Nature, Art. Heinemann, 1982.
Lively, Penelope. Nothing Missing but the Samovar. Heinemann, 1978.