Grey Hen Press was first set up by Joy Howard in 2007.  She was encouraged and supported by the involvement of  her late partner Barbara Burford, who worked with her in the early days of setting up the press.

Joy Howard worked for many years in social services, innovating and developing new approaches to fostering. After retirement, she returned to her life-long love of poetry and launched a second career as a publisher with Grey Hen.

Joy’s poems have featured in several anthologies: Beautiful Barbarians (Onlywomen1986), Dancing the Tightrope (The Women’s Press 1987), Naming the Waves (Virago 1988), and Not for the Academy (Onlywomen 1999), The Argent Round (Pembrokeshire Press 2007)  The Listening Shell (Headland 2010),  Slants of Light (Four Point Press 2013), The Scratching of Pens, Sweet Breast and Acid Tongue ((Like This Press 2014), Five Words (Ó Bhéal 2014), The Book of Love and Loss (Belgrave Press 2014) and Wenlock Poetry Festival (Fair Acre Press 2015) Dusk (Arachne Press 2017) Time and Tide  and Departures (Arachne Press 2019, Poems for the Year 2020 (Shoestring Press 2021) and Perfect Binding (Wordery 2021).

She contributed to Grey Hen’s first publication Second Bite, as well as to the later anthologies. Her collection based on her ‘coming out’ experiences in the ’80s, Exit Moonshine, was a Grey Hen publication in 2009. Her more recent poems have been published in Sofia, Sphinx ,The Interpreter’s House, ARTEMISpoetry, The Frogmore Papers, Orbis and online in Lavender Review. Her collection Refurbishment, was published in 2011 by Ward Wood, and her latest, Foraging, by Arachne Press in 2017.  A selection of her poems can be read on Poetry pf.

Barbara Burford (1944-2010) was, during her long working life, a medical research scientist at Great Ormond St and an IT systems specialist and leader in diversity policy-making in the NHS. Her last job was as Director of Diversity at DWP. In retirement she developed a business consultancy and was appointed Deputy Director of the Centre for Inclusion and Diversity at the University of Bradford.

She was also a creative writer, whose poetry and prose were widely anthologised. Publications include A Dangerous Knowing: Four Black Women Poets (Sheba 1984) and The Threshing Floor, a novella and short story collection (Firebrand Books 1987). She was a co-editor of Dancing the Tightrope: New Love Poems by Women (The Women’s Press 1987). The Threshing Floor is a regular recommendation on school and Further Education reading lists in both the UK and the US.

She left an unfinished novel and many short stories, to which she was hoping to return before her untimely death. These manuscripts are held by the Lesbian Archive at the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Barbara was Joy Howard’s partner for 23 years.