Search - List of Books by Ronald Duncan

Ronald Duncan (6 August 1914 - 3 June 1982) was a writer, poet and playwright, now best known for preparing the libretto for Benjamin Britten's opera The Rape of Lucretia, first performed in 1946.

Duncan was born, with the surname Dunkelsbühler, in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, (now Harare, Zimbabwe), in 1914. He became a pacifist during the 1930s, and his first publication, in January 1937, was The Complete Pacifist, a pamphlet appearing from the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) and carrying endorsements by Canon Dick Sheppard and other prominent pacifists. Later that year he wrote the words for a Pacifist March composed by Benjamin Britten (also a pacifist) for the PPU, but the work was not a success and was soon withdrawn. In the same year also he visited Gandhi in India, and from 1938 was on friendly terms with the British Hispanist Gerald Brenan.

In 1937, again, Duncan met Ezra Pound, who encouraged him to found the "little magazine" Townsman, 1938-1945. Of the 24 issues, numbers 21-24 (1944-45) appeared as The Scythe, a title that signalled Duncan's increasing interest in agriculture and husbandry. His pacifism had led him to set up a co-operative farming enterprise at Mead Farm, near Welcombe, Devon, during the Second World War. This failed by 1943, and in 1944 Duncan successfully faced a conscientious objection tribunal. In 1942-43 he helped Britten with the last scene of the opera Peter Grimes, and wrote the whole of the libretto for The Rape of Lucretia in 1945-46.

Duncan's play This Way to the Tomb was performed at the Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate in 1945, and was followed by his adaptation of Cocteau's L’aigle à deux têtes as The Eagle has Two Heads (1946). Tallulah Bankhead and Marlon Brando appeared in the U.S. production. Stratton was published in 1950. Our Lady's Tumbler was performed in Salisbury Cathedral for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Don Juan was first performed in 1953, and The Death of Satan: a comedy in 1954. A joint production of the two latter plays was presented by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in 1956, directed by George Devine. In 1962 there was controversy over the refusal of the Lord Chamberlain to permit public performance of The Catalyst, a play about a ménage à trois. These verse plays in the manner of T. S. Eliot became less popular from the mid-1960s.

Ronald Duncan was instrumental in setting up and naming the English Stage Company at London's Royal Court Theatre, which opened in 1956. Regrettably, during its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2006, the theatre did not acknowledge his initial work. Yet theatre historian Irving Wardle wrote, "without Duncan there would have been no English Stage Company". (The Theatres of George Devine [London: Jonathan Cape, 1978], p. 168.)

Duncan was also a writer of short stories and a journalist. He wrote the film script for Girl on a Motorcycle (dir. Jack Cardiff, 1968), which starred Marianne Faithfull. His poetry was published at Faber and Faber by T. S. Eliot, who became a friend.

In 1964 Duncan published All Men are Islands, the first of a series of lively and sometimes contentious and contradictory autobiographies. How to Make Enemies followed in 1968, and Obsessed in 1977. A final controversial autobiography, Working with Britten: A Personal Memoir appeared from Duncan's own Rebel Press in 1981 after being refused by a mainstream publisher.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s he worked on a long poem about science, Man, in five parts (1970-74).

Duncan died in hospital at Barnstaple, Devon, England, in 1982.
This author page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ronald Duncan", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0
Total Books: 31
The Technique of Leaded Glass
2003 - The Technique of Leaded Glass [Glass Crafts] (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780486426075
ISBN-10: 0486426076
Genre: Crafts, Hobbies & Home

The Horse
1990 - The Horse (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780285630031
ISBN-10: 0285630032

Tale of Tails
1981 - Tale of Tails (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780900615290
ISBN-10: 090061529X

Working with Britten A Personal Memoir
1981 - Working with Britten a Personal Memoir (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780900615306
ISBN-10: 0900615303

Encyclopedia of Ignorance
1978 - Encyclopedia of Ignorance (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780671790875
ISBN-10: 0671790870
Genre: Reference
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

Kettle of Fish
1971 - Kettle of Fish (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780491003674
ISBN-10: 0491003676

Encyclopaedia of Medical Ignorance Mind and Body in Health and Disease
Critics' Gaffes (Hardcover)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780356090900
ISBN-10: 0356090906

Ronald Duncan Collected Poems
Ronald Duncan Collected Poems (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780434980222
ISBN-10: 0434980226
Genre: Literature & Fiction

Don Juan
Don Juan (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780571020591
ISBN-10: 0571020593

This Way to the Tomb
This Way to the Tomb (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780571040261
ISBN-10: 0571040268

The Rape of Lucretia
The Rape of Lucretia (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780571067640
ISBN-10: 0571067646

Abelard and Heloise
Abelard and Heloise (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780571069651
ISBN-10: 0571069657

Encyclopedia of Ignorance Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Unknown
Devon and Cornwall
Devon and Cornwall [Britain S] (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780713400526
ISBN-10: 0713400528

Selected Poems
Selected Poems (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780900615177
ISBN-10: 0900615176

Auschwitz (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780900615184
ISBN-10: 0900615184

For the Few
For the Few (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780900615214
ISBN-10: 0900615214

Mr and Mrs Mouse
Mr and Mrs Mouse (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780900615238
ISBN-10: 0900615230

Uninvited Guest and Other Stories
Uninvited Guest and Other Stories (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780900615269
ISBN-10: 0900615265

Man Pt 1-5 in 1v
Man Pt 1-5 in 1v (Paperback)Paperback, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780900615283
ISBN-10: 0900615281