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Landlady Work Sheet

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  1. Read the short story on my website or find a copy in the library.


  1. “Show don’t tell” – Dahl shows he is a master of this technique. Find at least 5 examples of how he builds tension without giving anything away.



How this causes tension

How he could have said it less effectively

















Remember 5 is the minimum! Concentrate on “How it causes tension”


3 . Context

Billy Weaver arrives in an unfamiliar town and is looking for somewhere to stay. On the way to a place he was directed to by a man at the station he sees the sign 'Bed and Breakfast' in the window of a house.

In the list below, tick the items you think Billy might have thought made the place 'a pretty decent place to stay'. Then tick the items that you agree would make a house an attractive place to stay (as a guest).





green curtains

flowers in the window

fire burning in the hearth


dog sleeping in front of the fire


comfortable sofa and armchairs





In your opinion, what would be missing from the list above? (In other words, what would you be looking for in a guest house if you were thinking of staying there?) Why do you think the items you can think of are not mentioned above?

Draw a picture of what you think he would have seen through the window – relate this to your understanding of Sophisticated Picture Books ie it is not merely a picture but a means of enhancing the story. Remember that not all of us are fantastic artists (!!!) so you will also be judged on the ideas you are trying to portray. Make a chart to explain your ideas and techniques.



What I wanted to achieve by using this technique and how it relates to the atmosphere of the story




4 . Characterisation


There are two principal characters in the story 'The Landlady' - the landlady herself, and Billy Weaver, a young man arriving in an unfamiliar city and looking for accommodation. Billy is 17 years old, optimistic and innocent. The landlady is middle aged with a friendly and welcoming manner; but does she have a sinister motive?

List 5 physical characteristics of each character and explain how those characteristics are important in building up the image within the limits of a short story.


5       Witchraft


The story draws on similarities with certain European folk tales which start with young children being taken in by apparently well-meaning adults ('Hansel and Gretel' or 'Babes in the Wood' being a prime example). Is the house where Billy sees the sign 'Bed and Breakfast' enchanted? Does the landlady have magical, witch-like powers? Or is it all in the imagination? –  give our opinion with examples to agree or disagree with the above.

“The story would stand on its own without this witchy-hokeypokery. The story would be far better without it” (Jo Fraser writing in your Yr 9 assignment) – do you agree with this statement or not – write at least 200 words defending your opinion.


6       Writing

Either write a paragraph (between 70 and 100 words) as if continuing the story telling what you think happened next


Write about what you think happened next and what the consequences of that would be, and support what you say by referring to evidence in the story. (About 90 words)


7       Conclusion


Dahl often writes macabre works – discuss with examples and quotes to show how this work is/is not typical of his work and which characteristics are shown in it.

Please write at least 350 words – order your argument logically and use examples to illustrate it.



Not Achieved





Incomplete, lacking understanding of the task and depth

Complete. Shows understanding of the task.

Complete. Shows an understanding of the depth required and has tried to achieve it using examples.

Complete. Is able to complete the task using well reasoned arguments, logical explanations and has illustrated the work with relevant quotes and examples. Excellent presentation.

That extra factor which shows deep understanding of the how and why using cogent arguments and links to other works and knowledge of the author. Excellent presentation.


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