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Sally Bayley is a Teaching and Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford and from September 2018 she will be teaching writing in Oxford as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. Sally has written widely on visual responses to literature, including a jointly authored study of Sylvia Plath's relationship to the visual arts: Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath's Art of the Visual and a study of Plath as a cultural icon: Representing Sylvia Plath. In 2010 she completed a cross-media study of Emily Dickinson as a way of thinking about America's relationship to space and place: Home on the Horizon: America's Search for Space, from Emily Dickinson to Bob Dylan. She is the author of The Private Life of the Diary (Unbound, 2016).
`Reading is a form of escape and an avid reader is an escape artist...' By the age of ten precocious Sally, the author, had read all of Agatha Christies’s novels and moved on to Jane Eyre and David Copperfield. Miss Marple, Jane herself, Peggotty, these were her role models and companions. She invented back stories for them, different endings, had conversations and wove them in and out of her own life. We learn all this in delightful, fanciful snippets. In the same way we learn of the author’s traumatic childhood but because she is living through the events they just seem mysterious or sad or unexplained. She is a girl with a huge imagination and was able to accept the strange female dominant childhood she lived through until Social Services arrived and plucked her out. This is a memoir full of surprises. It’s intriguing, mesmerising and impressively written through the eyes of a child who relies on her literary heroines to guide her through her turbulent, formative years.