Penelope Lively--Biography

Added by Melissa Culross

Penelope Lively was born in Cairo, Egypt, March 17, 1933. She was sent to England at age 12 to attend school and graduated from St. Anne's College in 1956. Prior to age twelve she was educated at home with books that were sent from England. She remembers moving from Egypt, "I was then twelve, and I was being shipped to what was called home but as far as I was concerned was not home at all -- a mysterious, grey, wet place where it rained all the time...I can actually remember wading through snow drifts [indoors] because the snow came in through the broken windows- this for a little girl who'd been brought up in Africa." She still lives in England today with her husband Jack, a professor of politics at the University of West Warwick and two children. Her son, Adam, published his first novel at 26, and her daughter, Josephine is an oboist with the London Philharmonic.

Lively began writing prolifically in 1970. Her work is generally concerned with the flow of time, the continuity of past and present, and the relation between history and personal memory. "Perhaps what I'm interested the operation of memory, the ways in which the physical world is composed of memory, the ways in which it's an encumbrance and the ways in which it's an asset... I can hardly decide which it is. But it's something that I'm constantly aware of and constantly seeing new ways of exploring fictionally." She tends to gather from her own experiences for her books. The themes of death and loss are also prevalent in Lively's fiction.

Lively began writing children's books first, for which her fascination with English History was the foundation. She then made the transition from Children's to adult literature in the mid 1970's with The Road to Litchfield , her first novel for adults. As for Children's literature, she says, "I just don't get the ideas anymore, and I'm crowded with ideas for adult writing, so I have rather abandoned my children's books." -- Information taken from Contemporary Authors , Publishers Weekly , and the Dictionary of Literary Biography.

Penelope United Kingdom