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Viola Bayley (1911–1997)

Author of White Holiday

Includes the names: Viola Bayley

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Viola Clare Wingfield Powles was born at Rother Cliff, a large house on the outskirts of Rye, Sussex to Isabel Grace Wingfield and Lewis Charles Powles, an artist. She was educated at home and at Effingham House, and attended drama school in Hampshire because she wanted a career on the stage. She qualified as an elocution teacher. In 1933 she visited her uncle, a high Court Judge, in India, where she met Vernon Thomas Bayley, a handsome officer in the Indian Police, whom she married. The couple had 4 children and over the next 12 years lived and traveled in India. During World War II, Viola Bayley volunteered in the RAF cipher offices in Delhi and then worked as private secretary to the Governor’s wife. She wrote two autobiographical works, Early Years and Memories of India (1975), describing her life before the family returned to England after the war. In the winter of 1945-46, they began restoring the house where Viola had lived as a child. Her husband joined the Foreign Office and they began years of postings to Paris, Stockholm, Lebanon, Turkey and Cyprus. During these years, Viola wrote plays, short stories and stories for young children. In 1951 Viola published The Dark Lantern, a mystery thriller for older children set on the Dorset coast. The book received favorable reviews and established her reputation. She now concentrated mostly on books for older children. One of her most successful mystery thrillers was Storm on the Marsh (1953) whose inspiration and setting was Rother Cliff, with its imposing views over Rye and Romney Marsh. Among the many titles in her Adventure series, all based on places she had lived or visited, were the Turkish, Swedish, Italian, Scottish, Welsh, Austrian, Caribbean, Adriatic and Greek Adventure books, many of which were translated into numerous languages. She also wrote for the Children’s Club and other magazines.
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