Dr Sally Bayley, Lecturer in English for Visiting Students, has published the second part of her coming-of-age story, No Boys Play Here.
Sally’s latest book tells the story of a teenage girl in search of her lost father and uncle through the characters and plots of Shakespeare’s plays. Illustrated with drawings by Arizona Smith, the story unfolds as a series of strange theatrical scenes in the mind of a young girl intent on finding the missing men in her history. No Boys Play Here (William Collins, 2021) is the second in a three-part series exploring a child’s escape into literature as a form of retreat in the face of difficult social circumstances. The first, Girl with Dove: a Life Built by Books (William Collins, 2018) was Radio 4’s Book of the Week in January 2019, and a Spectator Book of the Year.
No Boys Play Here draws on Sally’s own experiences of childhood. Growing up, she was captivated by the sounds and rhythms of poetry ballads and folk songs and became the first child from West Sussex County Council Care Services to go to university. Moving back and forth between family life and Shakespearean scenes, No Boys Play Here asks some hard questions about how it is that some children grow up poor and what happens to make them so.
Sally teaches Hertford’s Visiting Students English, film and creative writing and also teaches on the Sarah Lawrence Programme at Wadham College. From 2018-20 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University. She has written widely on the life and artistic legacy of Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson and her publications include a study of the American home, Home on the Horizon: America’s Search for Space (Peter Lang, 2010), and a study of the diary as an art form, The Private Life of the Diary: from Pepys to Tweets (Unbound, 2016).