Online Resourses

Much interesting material about Ronald Duncan, his life, work, and friendships, can be found online:

Wikipedia has an entry describing his life and work.

Literary Places has an attractively-illustrated site describing Duncan’s life at West Mill in Devon, where he lived and worked – as both farmer and writer – from the 1930s until his death in 1982.

Duncan was primarily a playwright. Twenty-five plays are described on the site. This lists all the plays in English 'written, adapted or translated since the production of Look Back in Anger in 1956'. This is particularly appropriate, since it was Ronald Duncan who was instrumental in founding The Royal Court Theatre, where John Osborne’s play was first presented.

2013 was Benjamin Britten's centenary. Duncan collaborated with Britten on the libretto of his second opera, The Rape of Lucretia (1946). Excerpts from the opera can be found on YouTube here... This production was at Snape Maltings in 2001. Lucretia - sung by the great Sarah Connolly - tells her husband Collatinus of how Tarquinius has raped her.

View another version here...

The University of Texas at Austin has a collection of additional Duncan manuscripts and correspondence, which are available to search online here...

Those with an interest in music and drama will engage with this scholarly account of the opera by J. P. E. Harper-Scott, showing how it treats the difficult question of rape.

Film and television attracted Duncan's interest. Best known is his script for Girl on a Motorcycle, directed by Jack Cardiff and starring Marianne Faithfull and Alain Delon in 1968. View the entry on IMDB.

View the US trailer.

View the full IMDb listings of all Ronald Duncan's television and film work here... These include details of the 1987 Channel 4 version of The Rape of Lucretia, with Jean Rigby as Lucretia and Anthony Rolfe-Johnson and Kathryn Harries as the Male Chorus and Female Chorus. Also listed are details of his stage plays adapted for television during the1950s and four “Jan at the Blue Fox” stories televised in 1952, adapted from Duncan's column for the London Evening Standard.

Duncan edited a significant literary magazine, entitled Townsman. He was encouraged by the poet Ezra Pound, whom he met in Italy in 1937. In 1939, when Duncan was 25, Pound wrote in praise of Duncan in his characteristic epistolary style to novelist Ford Madox Ford: "deevotedly yrs/EZ with flowers in current Townsman. That kid Duncan is (making) the best bet for a magazine since the Little, Review demised and/or the transatlantic desisted." Pound means that Duncan’s magazine Townsman is the best literary magazine since The Little Review (1914-1929). His correspondence can be accessed at Questia.

The Seasons, by Ronald Duncan and David Cain is a remarkable 1969 vinyl recording of his poems set to music by David Cain, one of the geniuses of the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop. Intended for schoolchildren aged 10 and over, it became a cult recording in the 1990s, and influenced hauntology and retro-futurism. It was reissued in 2012 by Trunk Records.

The Seasons has a poem for every month. “June” can be heard here...

There is a blog discussion which incorporates a recording of “October” here...

And the best review can be found at this link:

Duncan’s best-known single work is his poem "The Horse", which he wrote for the Horse of the Year Show in 1954. View a visual adaptation on YouTube here...

View the text alone as a poem here...  and another version of "The Horse" here...

Collated by professor Alan Munton


all content © 2011 Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation | website by Daneswood