After 50 years of silence, Chiswick author Jane Hayward finally speaks of her time as a teenager in a mother-and-baby home


After 50 years of silence, Jane Hayward opens up about her time in a mother- and-baby home in a frank memoir!

Scenes of a dramatic nature with a compelling first person account set in the 1960s, The Baby Box by Jane Hayward, makes a unique memoir, countering the misery tradition of its genre by revealing her honest experience of being a pregnant teenager.

Her mother, horrified of the shame her daughter brought to the family, banished the young Jane to a mother-and-baby home, where adoption was the normal conclusion.

As well as her struggle to find any loving support, Jane’s book describes the outlook of the 1960s towards teenage sex, the unbearable tension, even violence, between her and her mother, countered by the happy atmosphere of the home, with entertaining tales of the other girls living there.

Although it describes some distressing, disturbing events, the upbeat narrative is one to which readers, who experienced the period, can relate. It will also fascinate younger women who grew up in a more liberal atmosphere. The legacy of those two years is still so strong, it is only after half a century that Jane is ready to speak out for herself, for other unwed mothers and for the adults who were, as babies, given away in adoption, and who still wonder if their birth mothers loved them.

Jane told us: “It has taken me over 50 years to talk openly about this time in my life as the shame was so firmly ground into me,” Jane says. “I couldn’t tell my story while my parents were alive.”

Those who enjoy memoirs reminiscent of an era, as well as readers who are looking for a true story with depth, will be engrossed in this tale of a repressive society, buried shame and ultimate forgiveness.

Jane Hayward writes long and short fiction. Her first novel, a romance, was published by Robert Hale. Jane developed her writing through the Arvon Foundation courses and then took an MA in Creative Writing
at the University of Chichester. Her dark tale The Way to a Man’s Heart won the Lightship
prize, published in their Anthology 1 by Alma Press.

Her stories have been short-listed by Comma Press and The Liar’s League and published by independent publishers. An excerpt from an early draft of this memoir was short-listed for the Fish Short Memoir Prize.