Pinewood was a progressive school some 60 miles/80 kilometres north of London with 50-60 pupils, many of them there more because of their parents' work or marital situations than the children's special educational needs. They included children whose parents lived in Australia, Canada, China, France, Persia and the United States, some of the parents in the arts, like the Welsh painter Augustus John, the English actor Donald Plaisance, and the Canadian novelist Elizabeth Smart.
Pinewood was run by sixty-year-old Elizabeth "Strix" Strachan, an eccentric woman who admired AS Neill's Summerhill School in Suffolk, but who feared that her efforts fell short of his. No doubt she was correct: if Summerhill championed freedom, not licence, Strachan ran Pinewood as a benevolent anarchy, as suggested by "Fairfields," the school portrayed in the opening chapter of My Father's Moon.
Pinewood might have completely fallen apart if it were not for Strachan's capable offsider, Edna Kenyatta, the first wife of Jomo Kenyatta who at the time was leading the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. Strachan and Kenyatta formed a complementary pair of women of a type often represented in Jolley's novels: Thorne and Edgely in Peabody, Price and Hayley in Scobie, and Peycroft and Miss Paisley in Foxybaby. The rest of the staff were an odd assortment of odd men, and a sad collection of unmarried mothers or women from broken marriages who lived there with their children. Being Matron at Pinewood was, in a sense, a parody of a job: Jolley's duties were ill defined, work and personal time overlapped, and her living conditions were virtually communal. Further, she was paid little when she was paid at all - Strachan reduced Jolley's wage from £2 per week, saying had overstated her qualifications, but Jolley did not always see the new weekly sum of thirty shillings.
If she did not do much writing in the four months she was there, nonetheless she learned a great deal from watching Strachan and Kenyatta and the other women with their children, often making "the quick little note" that Arthur Johnstone had taught her to do at Sibford. In addition, she spent a great deal of time anticipating and preparing finally to join Leonard Jolley who had left his wife Joyce in June to become Librarian for the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. She had many tasks to perform of a sort never easy for her, like closing her small savings account and cashing in her war loans to send the money to Leonard for the down payment on a house. In addition, he had her change her name from Fielding to Jolley on her identity card and food coupons.
She left Pinewood at the end of August 1950, visiting her
parents in Wolverhampton and her sister in Glasgow before
travelling to Edinburgh.