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A Sign of Her Own

On sale

1st February 2024

Price: £18.99

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781035401611

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‘Vivid. Eloquent. Offers insight as well as delight’ Guardian

‘An exquisite portrayal of the lonely dislocation of being deaf in a hearing world’ The Times

‘Absolutely brilliant. Ellen Lark is unforgettable’ Emilia Hart, author of Weyward

‘Illuminating… beautifully written’ Priscilla Morris, Women’s Prize Shortlisted author of Black Butterflies

‘Fantastic. Shines a light into a hidden corner of history’ Louise Hare author of This Lovely City and Miss Aldridge Regrets

Ellen Lark is on the verge of marriage when she and her fiancé receive an unexpected visit from Alexander Graham Bell.

Ellen knows immediately what Bell really wants from her. Ellen is deaf, and for a time was Bell’s student in a technique called Visible Speech. As he instructed her in speaking, Bell also confided in her about his dream of producing a device which would transmit the human voice along a wire: the telephone. Now, on the cusp of wealth and renown, Bell wants Ellen to speak up in support of his claim to the patent to the telephone, which is being challenged by rivals.

But Ellen has a different story to tell: that of how Bell betrayed her, and other deaf pupils, in pursuit of ambition and personal gain, and cut Ellen off from a community in which she had come to feel truly at home. It is a story no one around Ellen seems to want to hear – but there may never be a more important time for her to tell it.


Sarah Marsh pulls off the difficult feat of showing the hearing reader how it feels to be deaf, in a fascinating and moving historical novel that cleverly intertwines history and fiction. Beautifully written, it stayed in my mind long after the last page was turned
Emily Howes, author of THE PAINTER'S DAUGHTERS
A vivid, tender exploration of language and its power. In A Sign of Her Own, Sarah Marsh draws us into a hidden world of silence, capturing in the process something fundamental about our longing to be understood
Margaret Meyer, author of THE WITCHING TIDE
An absorbing depiction of a turning point in history, and a young deaf woman's discoveries within it
Laura Shepperson, author of THE HEROINES
Not since reading Helen Keller's A Story of My Life have I read such an evocative description on what it is like to be deaf. Sarah Marsh's A Sign of Her Own is a passionate and uncompromising story of the difficulties Deaf people face, and it doesn't shy away from the sometimes challenging politics of Deafness and Deaf Community.
Anna Mazzola, author of THE CLOCKWORK GIRL
A fascinating, sensitive and beautifully written exploration of deaf identity, the isolation of the non-hearing, and the way deaf people have been treated in the past
Emilia Hart, author of WEYWARD
Absolutely brilliant. An important story, so beautifully told. Ellen Lark is unforgettable
The Times
An exquisite portrayal of the lonely dislocation of being deaf in a hearing world
Daily Mail
This ambitious debut movingly conveys the isolated world of the deaf
An enrapturing read about betrayal, community, speaking out and being heard
An enrapturing read about betrayal, community, speaking out and being heard
Liz Hyder, author of THE GIFTS
Fascinating, thoughtful and thought-provoking. It's about ambition and community, betrayal and friendship, language and culture, and how good intentions can be deeply harmful. It's pacy, atmospheric, tense and intriguing and unfurls so so very beautifully. Magnificent. Can't wait to read whatever she writes next
Beautifully written and original, A Sign of Her Own shines a light into a hidden corner of history. Ellen Lark's story is one that will resonate with anyone who has struggled to fit in. A fantastic novel.
Priscilla Morris, author of BLACK BUTTERFLIES
An accomplished debut that excellently conveys the experience of being deaf in a hearing world. A Sign of Her Own gives a fascinating insight into a moment in history when the invention of the telephone was poised to connect countless people, yet deaf communities were being silenced by a movement against the use of sign language. Beautifully written, absorbing and illuminating.
Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of THE SPECTACULAR
Marsh's debut is an astonishing achievement, delving readers into the mind of a woman who lives in silence but whose mind bursts with a fierce intelligence and wit. A sobering look at the way people with disabilities were treated in the past, as well as an inside view of one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time. Remarkable
Naomi Kelsey, author of THE BURNINGS
A beautifully written tale of a woman's quest to find her own place in the world, and have her own voice heard; elegant, eloquent, and passionate
Serena Burdick, bestselling author of THE STOLEN BOOK OF EVELYN AUBREY
In this ambitious debut, Sarah Marsh paints a landscape of history that is unforgettable. Through the eyes of a deaf woman, we experience the isolation, confusion, and victories of living in a world of silence, while being given a story of one of the greatest scientists of our time. A triumph!