The Wandering Poets
A Spanish company, Quality Productions, has announced its intention to produce a film on the lives and partnership of Robert Graves and Laura Riding. While the partnership between the two authors began in 1926, and did not break up until 1940, the focus of the film will be on the Mallorcan years, the years between 1929 and 1936, when Riding and Graves attracted a diverse and changing group of poets, intellectuals, and creative artists to join them in Deia. Many of the individuals concerned went on to become successful in their own fields, examples being the poet Norman Cameron, the film maker Len Lye, the artist John Aldridge, and the intellectual Jacob Bronowski.
Javier Reyes, in introducing the ambitious project, has announced his intention to seek the contributions of a wide range of people, authors of biographies and articles on the two main characters, people who knew them, and others who knew people connected with their lives, including local people in Deia. A detailed draft storyboard has already been produced. The intention is to employ two actors, Marvan and Berta Guci, in the character of the wandering poets, travelling with them through “the same scenarios that Robert Graves and Laura Riding passed through, the places where they shared their lives and experiences ….” These scenes will be interspersed with commentary from those people consulted about various aspects of the poets’ lives and works, and of others connected with them.
It is the view of the editors of this website that this is a serious and ambitious attempt at making a documentary of these incredibly influential and exciting years in the intellectual life of the inter-war period. Mark Jacobs has been asked to contribute to the production. One of his immediate contributions has been to draw the attention of Quality Productions to something missing from their list of sources, namely the exceptionally fair-minded and evidenced biography by Elizabeth Friedmann, A Mannered Grace: The Life of Laura (Riding) Jackson published by Norton in 2005 (Persea Books 2004). It is well known that there was a polarisation of attitudes between those who remained close to Laura Riding after the break-up of the partnership, and those who went with Robert Graves. Reference to Friedmann’s well-documented and compassionate account should help redress the balance in that respect, as Graves’ biographers are already well represented.
Information will be added in News as the project develops.
Jack Blackmore, October 2022