Virginia Baily is the author of three novels: Africa Junction, which won the Society of Authors’ McKitterick prize in 2012, Early One Morning, a Waterstones and Goldsboro’s Book of the Month and a Sunday Times Bestseller which was dramatised on BBC Radio 4 and The Fourth Shore.
She’s a linguist, an Italophile, an Africanist and a traveler. She has taught French and Italian to English mother-tongue speakers and English as a foreign language to speakers of other languages. These experiences and propensities have coloured her thinking and her writing, which has a strong international element and is concerned with otherness, the outsider’s view, the familiar as exotic and vice-versa.
A sense of place is integral to her creative endeavour. The evocation of the tastes and smells, touch, fabric, texture, colours, light and shade of an imagined or re-imagined place allows her to bring a story into being. Her experience of working for thirty years on the Africa Research Bulletin equipped her with political and economic knowledge but it was the visceral experience of being in Africa that sparked Africa Junction. Similarly, Early One Morning was born, after a long gestation period, out of a passion for Italy that began when she first visited Rome, aged sixteen. The primary setting of The Fourth Shore – Libya when it was an Italian colony – synthesizes her love of these two places. All three novels take place against a backdrop of historical events.
She co-founded and continues to co-edit Riptide short story journal and teaches occasional creative writing classes in the community and at festivals. Her short stories and poetry have won awards and been widely anthologized. She was born in Yorkshire but moved to Cardiff at the age of seven and to Exeter at the age of eighteen. Since then, she has had periods of living in Italy and in London, but her main place of residence has always been Devon. She has two sons.