Sandspout Bookstore

The Green Lady
Sally Bayley


Post free to UK addresses only

Hardback | 208pp
HarperCollins, 2023 | 9780008414221

From the critically acclaimed author Sally Bayley, The Green Lady is a poignant, brilliant exploration of the relationships between children and their teachers. In the style of her memoir Girl with Dove, this book explores a child’s search for artistic education and a sense of self. Lyrical and playful, Sally Bayley’s writing transports the reader into an eccentric world of teachers, guardians and guiding spirits of place.

Moved by her female teachers, and guided by the artist J M W Turner, Sally Bayley’s protagonist goes in search of her maternal ancestors, in particular her grandmother, Edna May Turner. Following the narratives of other women in history who have taken different routes to independence and artistic freedom – including the educational suffragist Mary Neal, actress Margaret Rutherford, and poet Stevie Smith – Bayley considers the paths to happiness and the limitations social convention imposes.

Part novel, part memoir, The Green Lady continues the traditions of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando as an imagined biography which urgently understands the need for a space of one’s own in which to thrive. As one of the book’s several foster children, Bayley reminds us that families and homes can be found and built within literature and the arts as well as nature’s green spaces.

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‘Sally Bayley’s The Green Lady is a beguiling, experimental mixture of biography, fiction and family history… The prose is glancing and poetic, suffused with gentle melancholy, yet bursting with connections that anticipate, tease and delight… There is much here of art and literature as succour for the soul, and this charming, original and poignant book shines with intellectual and imaginative fire.’ – Philip Womack, The Spectator
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‘Nobody writes like Sally Bayley.’ – Lemn Sissay

SALLY BAYLEY is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. As a child, she absorbed the sounds and rhythms of poetry, ballads and folksongs, and these patterns inform the structure of her story-telling.

In 1990, Sally was the first child to go to university from West Sussex County Council Care services. She studied at St Andrews university, and then went to America, where she taught aesthetic education in midwestern schools and universities and foundation arts courses to adults in inner city Ohio. She is interested in the Liberal Arts model of education and believes anyone can think or write to a high level with the right encouragement and practice.

Sally is currently a Lecturer in English at Hertford College, Oxford. She also teaches on the Sarah Lawrence visiting programme at Wadham College, Oxford. From 2018-2020 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University.