Lynette Roberts

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Evelyn ('Lynette') Beatrice Roberts (4 July 1909 – 26 September 1995) was a poet. Born in Argentina, she settled in Britain and wrote in English.

Life[edit]

Lynette Roberts' headstone in Llanybri churchyard, April 2008

Evelyn Beatrice Roberts was born in Argentina on 4 July 1909, in Buenos Aires, to parents of Welsh extraction. While still young she moved to Britain, and studied in London at the Central School for Arts and Crafts.

In 1939 she married the poet and literary editor Keidrych Rhys at Llansteffan in Carmarthenshire, and they settled in the neighbouring LLanybri, where they lived during World War II in relative poverty, compared with what she was used to. She and her husband had two children, a daughter, Angharad, born in April 1945, and a son, Pridein, born in November 1946.

In Llanybri she painted, and in 1944 her collection Poems were published by Faber and Faber. She immortalised her village in her "Poem from Llanybri". This poem was addressed to the poet, Alun Lewis, to whom Roberts confessed to being attracted.[1] In 1944 and 1945 drafts of Robert Graves's The White Goddess were published in Keidrych Rhys's periodical, Wales.

After the War Roberts was the dedicatee of Robert Graves's The White Goddess in its first edition (1948), having provided much of the Welsh material used by him.

In 1949, she and Keidrych Rhys divorced. In 1951 Faber and Faber published her Gods with stainless ears: a heroic poem. After she became a Jehovah's Witness she ceased to publish. She died on 26 September 1995, at Ferryside, Carmarthenshire.

Writing[edit]

Between now and then, I will offer you
A fist full of rock cress fresh from the bank
The valley tips of garlic red with dew
Cooler than shallots, a breath you can swank

In the village when you come. At noon-day
I will offer you a choice bowl of cawl
Served with a 'lover's' spoon and a chopped spray
Of leeks or savori fach...

From "Poem from Llanybri", 1946 [2]

Later in life Roberts repudiated her work and refused to permit it to be reprinted. An edition of her collected poems was issued by Seren Press after her death but was immediately withdrawn because of legal problems with the Roberts estate; a new Collected Poems [3] finally appeared in 2006 from Carcanet, edited by Patrick McGuinness. A volume of miscellaneous prose,[4] diaries from her time in Llanybri, correspondence with Robert Graves, memoirs of the Sitwells and T. S. Eliot, an essay on "village dialect" and short stories appeared in 2008. An unpublished novel, Nesta, written in 1944, is apparently lost.[5] The Endeavour: Captain Cook's first voyage to Australia (1954) was a prose work.

Bibliography[edit]

  • 1942 - Two poems:'To a Welsh woman' and 'The circle of C' [poems in] Caseg broadsheets of Welsh poetry no.4 (Caseg Press)
  • 1944 - Modern Welsh Poetry edited by Keidrych Rees (Faber & Faber)
  • 1944 - Poems (Faber & Faber)
  • 1944 - An introduction to village dialect: with seven stories (The Druid Press)
  • 1951 - Gods with stainless ears: a heroic poem (Faber & Faber)
  • 1954 - The Endeavour: Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia (Peter Owen)
  • 1983 - 'Parts of an autobiography', Poetry Wales, 19, no.2, pp. 30–50
  • 2005 - 'A South American childhood' [transcript of radio talk], New Welsh Review, Issue 70 (Winter 2005)
  • 2005 - Collected poems; edited by Patrick McGuinness (Carcanet) ISBN 1-85754-842-6
  • 2008 - Diaries, letters and recollections; edited with an introduction by Patrick McGuinness (Carcanet) ISBN 1-85754-856-6

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Poet's Guide to Britain
  2. ^ "Poem from Llanybri"
  3. ^ Collected Poems
  4. ^ volume of miscellaneous prose
  5. ^ One of our greatest war poets: Lynette Roberts TLS 6 November 2009, article which indicates that lost novel has been discovered).

External links[edit]