A customer/friend of ours enjoyed reading Viola Bayley stories so much, she wanted to discover more about this author. There follows an article that she wrote put together from a variety of sources, and that is followed by the bibliographic details of the many short stories that Viola wrote for children as well as the many full length books that she is well known for.



Viola Bayley by Julie Makin

Viola Clare Wingfield Powles was born on the 8th January 1911 in Rye to Isabel Grace Wingfield and Lewis Charles Powles. Viola and her elder sister Veronica, with their parents and nanny, lived at rother Cliff, a large gabled house situated just off Rye Hill on the outskirts of rye, overlooking the town and Romney Marsh.  Lewis Powles (1860 - 1942) was a landscape and portrait painter who started his painting career late in life. It was a fairly typical middle-class background although, on an artist's small income, it must have been hard, at times, to keep up 'appearances' on the rigid code of the day.


Viola and her sister Veronica were educated, first at home by their mother who had studied the Montessori method of teaching, and  by a succession of French tutors.  Their first school was in a house opposite the Ypres tower, then Saltcote Place, a nearby manor house which had become a boarding school.  Saltcote Place had approximately twenty children and was run by three eccentric sisters. viola spent four happy nyears there before moving to board at effingham House, Bexhill, which she left 'without any regrets'. Viola had always loved dancing and acting and had attended dancing classes with her sister from an early age.  She acted in several local productions with some moderately rapturous reviews in the local press.  After leaving Effingham House at sixteen and taking her school certificate with the help of a local tutor, she was to 'go on the stage'.


As the Powles sisters were to young to live alone in London, Rother Cliff was let for a year whilst whilst they lived with their parents in a rented house in Hampstead, close to the Behnke Drama School for Viola and Westfield College for Veronica, who had won a scholarship. In 1933, aged 21, Viola Powles had finished drama school, only to go down with suspected TB and to be told that the stage was most unsuitable as a career.   She had qualified as an elocution teacher and had taught spasmodically at various schools. Rye held little appeal for her as it seemed full of the elderly, with a non-existent social life for young people. With this in mind, she thankfully accepted an invitation to join her cousin Winifred, married to Sir Donald Boyd, a high-court judge of the Indian Civil Service, to spend a winter season with them.


A month after she arrived in India and, romantically, just four days after they had met, Viola became engaged to Vernon Thomas Bayley, a 'tall, dark and handsome' young policeman.  As Vernon had just returned from long home leave and was unable to ask for further leave, it was decided that Viola should return to Rye to wait for Vernon to be granted special short leave for their wedding. They were were married on 6th October 1934 at St Michael's Church, Playden, Rye and started their married life in India, in Hangu, where Vernon had been seconded to the Frontier Constabulary.


The Bayleys lived in India for twelve years, although Viola returned to England for the birth of two of their children in 1935 and 1937-8.  During the early war years Viola volunteered to work in the cipher offices for the RAF in Delhi and, as she could type, worked on the machines, which she found infinitely prefereable to poring over code-books. Later on in the war, at Government House in Lahore, she became the private secretary to the Governor's wife and found the work intensely interesting and very varied.  Vernon & Viola Bayley left India with their three children, Jocelyn, Nicholas and Rosamund, in the winter of 1945-46 during the last years of British Rule.


Lewis & Isabel Powles had died during the war and left Rother Cliff to Viola. Returning to England, to a house that had been occupied by troops before lying empty for a year, was a daunting prospect. The garden was waist-high in brambles and thistles, with rambler roses over the window and holes for gun emplacements in what had been the front lawn. The house was in disrepair, with banisters broken off for firewood, doors kicked to pieces and graffiti everywhere.  The Bayleys worked hard repairing the damage, enjoying a wonderful sense of achievement as the house and garden gradually returned to a semblance of its former self.


Vernon was then however recalled to the Foreign Office and informed that future postings could be to any European embassy. Nanny came to look after young rosamund, and a new stage of the Bayley's life began. They travelled to destinations such as Paris, Stockholm, the Lebanon, Turkey & Cyprus - with the house in Rye and the London flat waiting for them on their return. It was also to be a rich source of material for the emerging author. 


Whilst in India Viola had written stories for young children published in 'The wings of the Morning'(1936), The Ways of Wonderland (1938) and The Kings Wig and other Stories (1945), plus three adult one-act plays published in Miniature Dramas Vols I-III.  In the early 1950's she began to write short stories and books for older children.  Her earliest works illustrate different writing styles and genres, but all her nstories have well drawn characters with bonds of family, friendship, loyalty and affection.  Her nstories reflect the adventure and excitement of her own travel and experiences, have a definite sense of place and an eye for detail, and capture a genuine interest in people's cultures and surroundings.


In 1951 Viola wrote The Dark Lantern, a mystery thriller for older readers, set on the Dorset coast. The book set very favourable reviews and established her as 'an excellent story teller, with an entirely convincing background of reality...' and began a collaboration with the publishers J M Dent and Sons, who were to publish all further Viola Bayley books, excepting White Holiday, which was published by Collins (1953). It is not know why this book alone of Viola Bayley's was published by Collins, but as it fits more into the Girls Annual mystery/romance genre with an old fashioned appeal, it may have been commissioned by them, or sent, as at this time she had begun writing similar short stories for the Collins annuals.


Also in 1953, Storm on the Marsh was published, another a mystery thriller, with a different background. Rother Cliff, with its semi-isolated position and imposing views over Rye and Romney Marsh, was the inspiration and setting for this exiting story involving the Halland family, their mysterious housekeeper and Camber castle it's environs. The four halland children were said to be modelled, in part, on Viola Bayley's own children, especially buster, based on her youngest son Julian, with his 'cheerful untidy self' and 'grazes to bandage' and 'whose appetite had never known defeat except in the throes of severe measles'.


Viola's writing career was taking off. Noel Streatfeild, writing in Collins Young Elizabethan, was effusive with praise for 'an author new to me who writes so well it should not be long before she is in the most favourite class'.  In 1955 J M Dent reprinted Storm on the Marsh as part of its Literature of Yesterday and today series of textbooks for secondary schools. These books have the original unabridged texts and illustrations, followed by several pages of questions and exercises for study and discussion.  The Dark lantern, Paris adventure, Kashmir Adventure & Shadow on the Wall were also reprinted in this series.


All of this author's books are stand alone stories, but some of her books feature the same characters to form mini series, such as the four Marriott books and the two Wycliffe family stories. Paris Adventure (Dent 1954) introduces the Marriott family, wheareas the Wycliffe family & Miss Carmichael are introduced by The Lebanon Adventure (Dent 1955).  These 2 adventure stories were the first of fifteen suspense & mystery thrillers, each set in a different country and given a series title of 'Adventure' by the publisher, J M Dent.


Published at a similar time, were April Gold (Dent, 1954)and Little Mallows (Dent, 1955) = gentle, charming stories, set in and around a country vicarage. Both have delightful characters and storylines, but are very different to the author's mystery thrillers, illustrating her great versatility of writing style. Alternatively Shadow on the Wall (Dent 1958) situated in the Lake District, and Mission on the Moor (Dent 1960) located in Dartmoor, are related in the first person, giving the stories a more intimate feel with tighter, more centred storylines. These are adventure stories once more.


After the death of her husband, in 1966, Viola Bayley continued to live at Rother Cliff,  She continued writing, completing a further 5 adventure books by 1972, which took her children through their education. This completed, her incentive for writing started to wane. In retirement she moved to a house in the centre of Rye, on the corner of West Street and Mermaid street, opposite Lamb House, where she worked for a time as a volunteer.  In the early 1980's a visit to South Africa inspired a further book - Shadows on the cape (J M Dent, 1985) but sadly, it did not sell as well as her previous stories. It is though, a very interesting story, with all the hallmarks of a Viola Bayley adventure, with her usual well drawn characters and descriptive settings - but times change in what children choose to read.


For a short time Viola Bayley lived in a retirement flat in Rye before moving to Surrey, near

her daughter, where she died in January 1997. She is remembered as 'one of the best authors in her field' by the Times Literary Supplement and all who have read her books.


Very early years Viola Bayley nd

Memories of India Viola Bayley, 1975

With thanks to Julian & Sue Bayley.

Viola Bayley's Published works for ChildrenListed below is every known edition of Viola Bayley’s published works plus some foreign translations


Early Years (Article)                             Publishing History Not Known                         ND

Memories of India                                Privately Published                                          1975



A quiet tea party - Miniature Dramas I - Macdonald

Before the play - Miniature Dramas II - Macdonald

Battle of the Wits - Miniature Dramas III - Macdonald 1949



The Wings of the Morning (1936)                Nisbet

The Ways of Wonderland (1938)                 Nisbet

The Kings Wig and other stories (1945)       Bombay Press



April Gold:                  - 1st edition -         Dent 1954

                                 - Pennant edition    Dent 1965

Little Mallows              - 1st edition          Dent 1955


The Dark Lantern              - 1st edition              Dent 1951

                                           - reprint                    Dent 1959                                   



             - ed. Literature of Yesterday & today       Dent c1955                                                                                                 -                                           Pennant ed.              Dent 1965


White Holiday                     - 1st edition               Collins 1953

                                            - Seagull edition         Collins 1953/1955

                                            - Children's Press       1956/57


Storm on the Marsh            - 1st edition              Dent - 1953

                                              - reprint                   Dent - 1955

                    - Literature of Yesterday & today ed    Dent - 1955


Shadow on the Wall              - 1st edition             Dent -  1958


                    - Literature of Yesterday & Today ed   Dent - c1960

Mission on the Moor              - 1st edition              Dent -1960

Shadows on the Cape           - 1st edition              Dent - 1985


Paris Adventure               - 1st edition           Dent - 1954

                                       -  reprint                Dent - 1961

                                      - Pennant edition     Dent - 1962

                - Literature of Yesterday & today ed Dent - 1956/61  

Lebanon Adventure            - 1st edition         Dent - 1955        


                                                          reprint  -              Dent 1958

  Kashmir Adventure                     - 1st edition             Dent 1956

                                                       - reprint                   Dent 1958

                         - Literature of Yesterday & today ed.      Dent  c1961


Corsican Adventure                       - 1st edition             Dent 1957

                                                       - Pennant edition      Dent


Turkish Adventure                         - 1st edition            Dent 1957


*Swedish Adventure                     - 1st edition            Dent 1959


*London Adventure                       - 1st edition            Dent 1962


Italian Adventure                           - 1st edition           Dent 1964


Scottish Adventure                         - 1st edition           Dent 1965

                                       Childrens Book Club (CBC)ed   1966


Welsh Adventure                            - 1st edition            Dent 1966

                                                           Book Club           CBC 1968


Austrian Adventure                          - 1st edition           Dent 1968

                                                             reprint               Dent 1972


Jersey Adventure                             - 1st edition          Dent - 1969 

                                                            Book Club ed.     CBC

                                                            Pennant edition    Dent 1969

                                                            reprint                  Dent 1971


Adriatic Adventure                          - 1st edition             Dent 1970

                                                           Book Club              CBC 1971


Caribbean Adventure                        - 1st  edition          Dent 1971

                                                           Paperback edition    Dolphin/Dent - 1976


Greek Adventure                           - 1st edition                Dent 1972                

* We have customers waiting for copies of Swedish adventure & London adventure - please e-mail me at  peakirkmailto:[email protected].com if you have a copy to sell.  




Die Schwarze Laterne (The Black Lantern)

Abenteuer in Wales (Welsh Adventure)

Abenteuer in Griechenland (Greek Adventure)

Abenteuer auf Jersey (Jersey Adventure)

Karibisches Abenteuer (Caribbean Adventure)

Abenteuer in Libanon (Lebanon Adventure)

Abenteuer in Paris (Paris Adventure)

Schatten uber Penderwick (Shadow over Penderwick ie Shadow on the Wall)

Abenteuer in Italien (Italian Adventure)

Abenteuer in Kaschmir (Kashmir Adventure)

Abenteuer in Schottland (Scottish Adventure)

So Tuchtig wie Tissie (As Efficient as Tissie ie Little Mallows)




Aventure aux Caraibes (Caribbean Adventure) 

 Une Ombre sur le mur (Shadow on the Wall)

Au-dessus du gouffre - Histoires d’aventure pour Filles (Above the Abyss - Adventure Stories for Girls)


Het Raadsel van het Heidehuis (The Riddle of the Heath House  ie possibly Storm on the Marsh or Mission on the Moor??)

De Schaduw op de Muur (Shadow on the Wall)


Aventyr I Paris (Paris Adventure)



It is difficult to produce an accurate list of every appearance of Viola Bayley’s short stories as many were reprinted several times in different Collins’ annuals.  Listed below is every known short story.




Above the Torrent                     Stirring Stories for Girls                       Odhams               1960

 Anne Finds Her Feet                 Location unknown 

Barbeque, The                           Collins Girls’ Annual                              Collins                  1961

Chance in a Million, A                Source unknown

Christmas for Cathy                  Collins Girls’ Annual                              Collins                  1954



                                                   Crackerjack Book for Girls                   Collins                  1959

The Cliffhanger Patrol             Location unknown

The coaching of Kay               Collins Girls Annual                                      Collins                 1959

Into the Blue                               Mystery and Adventure  Stories              Odhams               1962

                                                       for girls             

The Latchkey                             Girls story Omnibus                                  Collins                  nd

Monsieur Baudet                      Collins Girls' annual                                    Collins                  1960

Peril at Whitton Point               Girl Guides Annual                                      Thames                 1959

The Silver Ball                            source unknown

The Story of Claude                 Source unknown

Tangle in turkey                        Around the world adventure

                                                   stories for girls                                       Odhams                1968

Ten-Fifteen                                 Collins Girls Annuals                                  Collins                   1956

                                                 Crackerjack Book for girls                          Collins                  1959

The third Pancake                    Collins girls annual                                       Collins                    1957




Turn of the Tide                  Collins girls Annual                              Collins                1954

                                            Girls Own Book                                   Collins                 nd

Walls of Snow                     Collins Girls Annual                             Collins                  1953

                                            Splendid Book for girls                        Collins                  1956

                                            Crackerjack book for girls                   Collins                 1959