Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Lively, Penelope

(1933-    ) UK writer, born in Cairo, who won the Booker Prize for Moon Tiger (1987) and was awarded an OBE in 1989. A constant theme in her work is the impact of the past on the present; in her work for adults this theme is developed naturalistically, in terms of memory and heritage, save for the occasional peripheral Timeslip – as in "The Pill-Box" (in Corruption coll 1984) – but in her children's books the past routinely intrudes upon the present in the form of supernatural manifestations. Astercote (1970) features a medieval village depopulated by the Black Death and the Quest to recover a lost relic, though does not stray into outright fantasy. In The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy (1971; vt The Wild Hunt of the Ghost Hounds 1972 US), however, the ancient Ritual revived by a country vicar to provide his village with "local colour" unleashes powerful supernatural forces (>>> Wild Hunt). The Whispering Knights (1971) involves the accidental summoning of the spirit of Morgan Le Fay.

The Driftway (1972) is a much quieter account of history come to life. Its delicate moralistic element was more effectively recapitulated in The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973), in which an Elizabethan Wizard's influence over a young boy is misdirected because he cannot get to grips with the facts of modern life; the novel won the Carnegie Medal. The House in Norham Gardens (1974) involves an even greater cultural divide, in that its haunters are New Guinea tribesmen in search of a sacred relic plundered in Victorian times. A Stitch in Time (1976), which won a Whitbread Award, takes the line of thought a step further, involving the evolutionary past as well as the historical past, redeploying the reflective analysis of Landscape which was the subject of PL's nonfiction The Presence of the Past (1976).

Most of PL's subsequent children's books are for a younger audience and much less serious. One notable comic fantasy for older children is The Voyage of QV66 (1978; vt The Voyage of QV Sixty-Six US), in which the animals that have inherited the Earth after a new Flood try to help one of their number figure out what (or who) he is. The Revenge of Samuel Stokes (1981) returns to more familiar ground, offering an eerie account of a Haunting. [BS]

other works: the Long Ago Children series, comprising Boy Without a Name (1975), Fanny's Sister (1976 chap), Fanny and the Monsters (1978 chap) and Fanny and the Battle of Potter's Piece (1980 chap); The Stained Glass Window (1976); Dragon Trouble (1984 chap); Uninvited Ghosts and Other Stories (coll 1984); Pack of Cards: Stories 1978-1986 (coll 1986); Debbie and the Little Devil (1987); A House Inside Out (coll 1987; cut vt Lost Dog and Other Stories 1996 chap); Judy and the Martian (1992); Princess by Mistake (1993); The Cat, the Crow and the Banyan Tree (1994); Good Night Sleep Tight (1994).

Penelope Margaret Lively


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.