Sandspout Bookstore

No Boys Play Here
Sally Bayley


Post free to UK addresses only

Paperback | 270pp
Collins, 2022 | 9780008318925

A literary story of working class childhood, absent or broken men and the power of literature to save and rebuild a world.

In Sally Bayley’s childhood, the men were often missing. Missing because they were drunk, or out of work, or wandering. Or missing because their behaviour meant women banned them from the house. The man who was around for Sally was Shakespeare, and he brought men with him to fill the gaps. Sally grew up with a troupe of sad kings and lonely heroes. Her mind ran away from home with Falstaff and Prince Hal, with deceivers and mavericks and geniuses.

In her signature and extraordinary style, this is Sally’s story of her childhood – one lived with darkness snapping at heels, with real and imagined people passing through interchangeably, and with trauma a spiky memory to be skirted and avoided. Inventive, literary and adventurous, this is a story of hard childhood and a testament to the way that great literature and its characters can guard an imagination against the bad.

More books by Sally Bayley…



‘Nobody writes like Sally Bayley’ – Lemn Sissay

‘Sally Bayley’s second volume of memoir is as original and moving as the first. Shakespeare’s characters walk with a family enacting their own tragedies and comedies as they struggle with poverty and illness. Bayley’s bright, tight, sentences and tender wit create a truly child-like perspective which allows us to understand great pain. To be read by all educationalists’ – Kate Clanchy, Orwell Prize-winning author of Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me

‘Very powerful and moving … With many insights into aspects of the way we live now’ – Marina Warner, author of Once Upon a Time

‘Sally Bayley’s new book dances along the intersections of memoir, family history, literary criticism and autofiction … Her writing is always fluid, playful, surprising and challenging. Ultimately, this is a book about healing, about how the characters of literature can help us re imagine and redeem the challenging people we encounter in our own lives’ – Alice Jolly, author of Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile, runner-up of the Rathbones Folio Award 2019