The Green Lady: A Spirit, A Story, A Place

By Sally Bayley

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, 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.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 20 Jul 2023
Pages: 208
ISBN: 978-0-00-841422-1
Sally Bayley is a writer and lecturer in English at Hertford College, Oxford. She is the author of a number of books including Girl With Dove and No Boys Play Here. She writes and performs A Reading Life, A Writing Life, a podcast for a world in crisis. Her website is:


”'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” - SPECTATOR

”'With each new book, Sally Bayley seems to invent a new literary genre. The Green Lady is another bulletin from her unique imagination - a marvel of formal originality and verbal ingenuity. There is no other writer remotely like her” - MATT ROWLAND HILL, author of Original Sins

”'In a beguiling blend of memoir and storytelling, the author of Girl with Dove and No Boys Play Here explores the relationship between children and their teachers, and the sustaining power of literature, especially for those growing up in poverty or dealing with neglect and abuse. In search of a better plot, Bayley’s protagonist seeks out her maternal ancestors, and other women in history who have paved a path to independence, happiness and artistic freedom in a space of one’s own. No one writes quite like Bayley” - she’s a true, precious original’ CAROLINE SANDERSON, The Bookseller

”'A unique piece of writing which is enthralling and leaves one tasting the salt air of nostalgia. The reader delights in her word play, her deftness and playfulness, painterly and yet essentially three dimensional: a living canvas which is a feat of magic and alchemy” - Pratima Mitchell