He saved William Blake’s life.
He was the first person to publish any of Dante’s writing in English translation.
Emma, Lady Hamilton credited his best-selling self-help book – The Triumphs of Temper – with her marriage to Sir William.
And his wife still wouldn’t have sex with him.
Meet William Hayley, poet, essayist, amateur doctor and all-round 18th-century Man of Feeling, whose life-story reads like a rollicking soap opera. Bursting with celebrities, poetry and reckless riding accidents, HayleyWorld isn’t just a book for those fascinated with literary or social history – it’s a great yarn for anyone who loves a good ol’ tragi-comic costume drama.
From the time when, still a child, he accidentally stabbed himself while reciting a scene from Othello, to his final years languishing cheerily in the turret he built just outside Bognor “not to live in, but to die in”, William Hayley behaved like a character (not always the hero) from a sentimental novel. Passionate friendships, impetuous proposals, death and madness, professional successes and humiliations chequer the life of the man proud to have “received from nature the happy propensity of building new castles in the air, as rapidly as he beheld one structure of that kind in ruins…”
Alongside the contemporary images you’d expect to find in a biography like this, it’ll also feature a handful of stunning original illustrations by multi-award-winning costume and set designer Katrina Lindsay, whose work includes a 2008 Tony for Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Damon Albarn's Dr Dee, Cabaret and costumes for Terry Gilliam’s Faust at ENO.
‘The effusion of blood was so great, and the wound appeared so wide, that his mother sent instantly for a surgeon,’ wrote William Hayley of the occasion when he accidentally stabbed himself in the chest whilst entertaining his nursemaid by acting out a scene from Othello. He was lucky. The penknife he’d snatched up to enhance his performance hit a rib and the injury wasn’t as bad as it looked. It was, in fact, the least dangerous (and most comic) of the four narrow escapes that punctuated his childhood. The first occurred when he was put out to a wet nurse who turned out to be, in his words ‘so deficient in the vital treasure … that her charge was nearly starved to death, before the source of his decline was discovered.’ Hayley describes it as ‘a fraud not uncommon among venal nurses’ and Dr William Buchan, in his influential Domestic Medicine (1769), explains, flatly, how ‘the misconduct of nurses often proves fatal to children’. Not only did some amongst them underfeed their charges, they’d also supplement their meagre diets with life-threatening quantities of opiates and spirits.
All supporters get their name printed in every edition of the book. All levels include the ebook and immediate access to the author's shed.
e-book edition, access to Lisa’s shed and your name in the back of the book.
1st edition hardback
e-book edition, access to the Lisa's shed and your name in the back of the book.
Signed 1st edition hardback; e-book edition, access to the author's shed and your name in the back of the book
A signed copy but you also get to dedicate one of Hayley’s copious exclamation marks to a person or institution worthy of recognition (William Hayley loved exclamation marks). The dedication will appear as a footnote in the book’s text (limited to 20).
A signed copy plus you and a friend can meet Lisa in West Sussex to visit Hayley-related sites in Felpham and Eartham, Includes lunch at the historic Fox Inn (where Blake was arrested for treason in 1803)
A signed copy plus a framed print of an illustration from the book by award-winning set designer Katrina Lindsay.
A signed copy plus an early edition of one of Hayley’ two most successful books: The Triumph of Temper (1803, illustrated with Blake engravings); and Old Maids (1793). Availability strictly limited.
A signed copy plus a framed, original illustration from the book by award-winning set designer Katrina Lindsay.