It’s the birthday of novelist and children’s author Penelope Lively (books by this author), born in Cairo, Egypt (1933). She’s the author of the novels The Road to Lichfield (1977), Treasures of Time (1979), and According to Mark (1984), among many others.
She grew up with her parents in a suburb of Cairo and visited the pyramids every week. She studied history at Oxford and was planning to become a social historian. But when she got married and had kids, she found she enjoyed reading to her children so much that she wanted to write children’s books herself. Her book The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973) won the Carnegie Medal, Britain’s highest award for children’s literature. A few years later, she started publishing fiction for adults, and her novel Moon Tiger (1987) won the Booker Prize.
In Moon Tiger, she wrote: “We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse: we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.”