Four Bare Legs in a Bed

Four Bare Legs in a Bed

ISBN: 978-0749391621

Helen Simpson’s first collection of short stories includes a tale of sisterly ingenuity in fourth-century Lycia, a revelatory driving lesson, a heartsick seafarer travelling the coast of Norway, and ‘Labour’, a five-act drama with blank-verse chorus of midwives.

Heinemann, 1990; Minerva, 1991; Goldmann Verlag, 1991; Harmony Books/New York, 1992; Denoel, 1992' Marsilio, 1995; Vintage, 1998


Four Bare Legs in a Bed
Good Friday, 1663
Give Me Daughters Any Day
The Bed
What Are Neighbours For
An Interesting Condition
Christmas Jezebels
A Shining Example
Zoë and the Pedagogues
Send One Up For Me
The Seafarer
Below Rubies
Escape Clauses


“Waking was a warm climb from absolute ease into a state where I lay, half-stunned and splendid, protected for some minutes from the day by the heat-shivering vividness of dreams.  The best dream was of the sea, surfy and crystalline, where men raced naked and white as dolphins and I was carried up effortlessly to the point of laughter on great glassy waves.”

From The Bed

“First, there was tea in the kitchen, the kettle smoking like the muzzle of a gun.

‘Heard from that husband of yours lately?’ said Vesta.  This was her favourite opening gambit.

‘Not for a while, no,’ said Janet, bristling. ‘Why?’

‘Ha,’ grunted Vesta with a merry look.


‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ said Janet, humiliation transforming her features.

‘Don’t quarrel about Dad,’ said Ruth.  ‘We’ve only just got here.’

‘And you can shut up,’ said Vesta equably, while Janet pulled out a crossword puzzle with a pitiable show of indifference.”

From Give Me Daughters Any Day

Strongly embraced by each contraction

The baby, hugged and squeezed, waits upside down

Until the lock’s enlarged before it’s launched

Headfirst, chin tucked to chest, in slow motion

Through vaults of bone, branched pelvic arabesques,

And down along the elastic boulevards.”

From Labour


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