“The Landlady” – Classroom Activities

These exercises were sent in by Frankie Meehan, an ESL Teacher at United World College of SE Asia, Singapore. If you have any questions, please email him at fme@uwcsea.edu.sg. Thanks Frankie!

NOTE: Any page/line numbers below refer to Tales of the Unexpected, Penguin, 1979. You may need to change them to reflect the particular version of the story you’re using.

1. Making your own story

With a partner, use the following sentences to make up a story. (You may use the sentences in any order you like.) Add your own ideas. You will have to share your story with the rest of the class.

  • He pressed the bell.
  • There were no other hats or coats in the hall.
  • “Would you be kind enough to pop into the sitting-room on the ground floor and sign the book?”
  • “Wasn’t that the name of the Eton schoolboy who was on a walking tour, when all of a sudden…”
  • She put out one of her white hands and patted him comfortingly on the knee.
  • “This last entry is over two years old.”
  • “Only you.”

2. Dahl’s Story

Read Roald Dahl’s story, then answer the following questions.

  1. Why does Billy Weaver walk “briskly” down the street (line 21)?
    a) He wants to impress his boss.
    b) He wants to act like a successful businessman.
    c) He wants to keep warm.
  2. Which aspects of the house make Billy feel it would be a good place to stay?
  3. Why did Billy not go to the pub?
  4. What was unusual about the way the landlady responded to the doorbell?
  5. Which aspects of the landlady’s appearance and voice make her seem trustworthy (lines 87-118)?
  6. What evidence is there that the landlady had been expecting a guest?
  7. What are the first signs that the landlady is very odd?
  8. Billy doesn’t finish his sentence about Christopher Mulholland. What was he about to say?
  9. Why is it frightening when the landlady says Mr Temple had perfect skin “just like a baby’s”?
  10. What do you think the landlady means when she says “I stuff all my little pets myself when they pass away?”
  11. How do you think Billy will die? Explain why you think so.