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1001 Stories Collection

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe

1001 The Ghost Of Thomas Kempe
Added on 03rd September 2020

Author Penelope Lively
First published 1973
Publisher Heinemann, London, UK

When James moves into a new house he meets Thomas Kempe, a sorcerer looking for an apprentice.

Story

No one notices when the builders smash a small glass bottle in an old cottage in Ledsham, Oxfordshire. But when James and his family move in, strange things start to happen and James gets the blame. But it is not James who is causing all the mischief. It is the ghost of an ancient sorcerer, Thomas Kempe, who is determined to make James his apprentice.

Why we chose it

A gentle ghost story from a great storyteller set in Oxfordshire. The arrival of the ghost brings humour and some very funny situations but also a poignant sense of the passing of time and of changes over time to people and to places.

Where it came from

Growing up as an only child in Egypt during World War II, Penelope Lively (1933 - ) spent a lot of time alone, making up stories. However, it wasn’t until she had her own children that she considered becoming an author. After studying history at Oxford University, Lively became particularly interested in exploring the past in the present. The Ghost of Thomas Kempe was one of her earliest novels, and one of several to explore local Oxfordshire history.

Where it went next

The book won the Carnegie Medal in 1973 and a film adaptation was produced in 1978. Lively was awarded an OBE for her contributions to literature in 1989, a CBE in 2001, and a DBE in 2012. The Ghost of Thomas Kempe remains her favourite of all her books.

Associated stories

Penelope Lively has written a many novels for both adults and children. Her children’s stories include Astercote and A Stitch in Time

Added on 03rd September 2020

Author Penelope Lively
First published 1973
Publisher Heinemann, London, UK