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  • Published: 18 May 2017
  • ISBN: 9780241978535
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $22.99

The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories

A new collection of short stories from the Man Booker Prize-winning writer

A dream house that is hiding something sinister; two women having lunch who share a husband; an old woman doing her weekly supermarket shop with a secret past that no one could guess; a couple who don't know each other at all even after fifteen years together; and, in the story from which this collection takes its name, a bird and a servant girl in ancient Pompeii who cannot converse, but share a perfect understanding. In this new and varied collection of short stories, Penelope Lively shows that she remains a master of her craft, and one of our finest English writers.

  • Published: 18 May 2017
  • ISBN: 9780241978535
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Penelope Lively

Penelope Lively grew up in Egypt but settled in England after the war and took a degree in history at St Anne's College, Oxford. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a member of PEN and the Society of Authors. She was married to the late Professor Jack Lively, has a daughter, a son and four grandchildren, and lives in Oxfordshire and London.Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize; once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger. Her novels include Passing On, shortlisted for the 1989 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, City of the Mind, Cleopatra's Sister and Heat Wave. Many of her books, including Going Back, which first appeared as a children's book, and Oleander, Jacaranda, an autobiographical memoir of her childhood days in Egypt, are published in Penguin.Penelope Lively has also written radio and television scripts and has acted as presenter for a BBC Radio 4 programme on children's literature. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award.

Also by Penelope Lively

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Praise for The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories

Carefully thought-out stories. . . Patterns of interaction between past and present are sounded out to good effect.

Sunday Times

Lively has guts and style. . . You are in the hands of a master

Daily Mail

Her new collection of short stories is perfect. It is a very wide range of short stories and each one has an unexpected twist in the tale.

Kirsty Lang

Thoughtful, intelligent and light of touch . . . Lively has the gift, rare and wonderful, of being able to peel back the layers one by one and set them before us, translucent and gleaming.

Sunday Telegraph

Spry and world-wise, The Purple Swamp Hen is an enchanting story that sets the tone for the rest of this stellar collection.


More stylish than many writers half her age . . . Lively knows a thing or two about storytelling.

The Times on How It All Began

Lively is now nearly 80 but, as How It All Began shows, there is no diminution of her skills . . . Lively is a writer of craft and sagacity and such old fashioned virtues trump the chic but meretricious every time.

Financial Times on How It All Began

Penelope Lively at her best, sharp-eyed but sympathetic, deftly steering the reader from one point of view to another. This novel should delight her regular readers and ensnare new ones.

Evening Standard on Family Album

Lively skilfully mingles past and present, as she peels away the layers to uncover a family secret of which no one speaks...Lively's astute skewering of family relations reverberates in the mind long afterwards.

Daily Mail on Family Album


David Vann on Family Album, Guardian Books of the Year

Sensuous and beautiful prose...proof that the best novelists change and grow.

The Times on Consequences

Neatly constructed, lucidly written and full of admirable sentiments.

Sunday Times on Consequences

Masterful. Transforms the every day into something rich.

Time Out on Consequences