Muriel, Unity, Baron and 'Vulcano'
My friend Muriel Walker celebrated her 94th birthday this month. Happy birthday! We called on her for a coffee and a chat.
Muriel had a long association with the Hayward Gallery. In this photograph she is standing beside a wonderful portrait of her by her friend Philip Sutton RA.
Just as striking is a photograph of Muriel taken many decades ago by her brother.
I got to know Muriel when I was researching into the novelist Alexander Baron. At 18, she got a job at Unity Theatre - and quickly became part of the team working on the monthly journal Baron edited, New Theatre.
In this 1948 photo below taken during a Unity Theatre outing to Box Hill, Muriel is third from left at the front, with dark hair and a hand towards her mouth. Alexander Baron is three to the right - with glasses and arms folded.
After a few years, Muriel and her friend Beryl - another Unity Theatre regular - decided to head to Italy. Baron had served in Italy during the war, an episode he wrote about powerfully in There's No Home, and he wrote Muriel this letter of introduction:
While in Italy, Muriel worked on location during the filming of the cinema classic Vulcano and then with the actor Anna Magnani - what an adventure!
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