Students Staff

27 September 2012

Literature graduate publishes first novel

Jar Baby cover

University of Essex literature student Hayley Webster has published her first novel after securing a three book deal with Dexter Haven publishers.

Jar Baby is a compelling story of secrecy and shame set in the world of high fashion. Diana Rickwood's isolated childhood by the sea with her uncle, Rohan, a celebrated fashion designer, is part idyll, part nightmare. When her life is disturbed by the arrival of uncle's 'muse', model Stella Avery, Diana severs her links with her past and moves to London to forget. Ten years on, her uncle's death forces her to reexamine the past. What she discovers is shocking: a web of secrets and half truths that hide a family shame, but also reveal a poignant hidden love story.

Acclaimed writer, novelist and editor Cathi Unsworth has described Jar Baby as "A haunting tale of mystery and betrayal, whose savage beauty is rendered in every line of prose — like staring into a Richard Dadd fairy painting and gradually seeing yet more tiny details emerge beyond the intricate surface. Hayley Webster is a true artist of words."

Hayley studied in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies between 1998 and 2002 and graduated with a first class BA English and United States Literature. She later went on to take an MA Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, receiving a distinction. Hayley was given an Escalator Award for Literature in 2005 and the writing of Jar Baby was backed by Arts Council East, who awarded her a grant in 2006 to help complete the novel.

Jar Baby is published in paperback by Dexter Haven publishing at £7.99.

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