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About Emily Sheila Fry
(Emily) Sheila Kaye-Smith was born on 4 February 1887 at Battle Lodge, 9 Dane Road, St Leonards. She was the eldest daughter of Edward Kaye-Smith, a local doctor. She grew up in East Sussex and spent the summers with her younger sister Selina staying at local farms, many of which provided inspiration for her novels.
Sheila began writing stories while studying at Hastings and St Leonards Ladies College. During her teenage years she wrote six short novels a year. Her first full length novel ‘The Tramping Methodist’ was published in 1908 when she was twenty-one years old and she achieved fame in 1916 with her novel ‘Sussex Gorse’. Her books often had a strong sense of place and the reoccurring rural themes illustrated her knowledge of farming and the local dialect. She also wrote poetry and non-fiction, including a guide to ‘The Weald of Kent and Sussex’ which was part of the Regional Books Series.
Religion was a frequent theme in her work and in 1924 she married Anglican curate Revd. Theodore Penrose Fry. The couple moved to Kensington after their marriage but returned to Sussex in 1929 and converted to Roman Catholicism. They bought ‘Little Doucegrove’ near Northiam and built the small church of St Teresa of Liseux in the grounds. Sheila was buried there after her death in January 1956.