Penelope Lively

Influential Books

I went to a school at which one of the punishments was to spend an hour in the library, reading. It was in accordance with this policy of unflinching resistance to culture that I found myself in the headmistress’s study one day; she had a book on the desk in front of her – my book, my copy of the Oxford Book of English Verse. She pushed it towards me with distaste. ‘This,’ she said, ‘was found in your locker. There is no need for you to read that sort of thing in your spare time-you will be taught all that. And I am told you are bottom of your form in games and gymnastics yet again.’

Donmar Warehouse


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