EZRA POUND, letter to his mother, 1909
I'm just back from a recharging visit home, and a couple of literary festivals in Cornwall and Hampshire, talking about the inspiration for the first two novels. The idea of writing about a creative partnership in my next book is bubbling away at the back of my mind, and I was interested to notice again that none of the writers I met had partners who were writers or artists. Not one. Is it a case of when writers or artists pair up with their peers it can be very, very good - or totally disastrous?
I'm hoping people will offer up suggestions of successful pairings - creative and romantic partnerships fascinate me. Lee Miller and Man Ray, for example, whose brief relationship burnt out but left a great legacy of photographs. Shrugging off the mantle of surrealist muse, Miller went on to have an incredible career as a war photographer.
Hemingway's romantic life has inspired some wonderful novels lately - Paula McLain's 'The Paris Wife' and Naomi Wood's 'Mrs Hemingway.'
Hemingway and Gellhorn
In 'Die letzten Tage des Sommers', just published in Germany, I wrote about the summer Andre Breton and his wife Jacqueline Lamba spent as refugees in the south of France during WW2, sheltering in a fishing shack in Martigues. Breton was the magnetic heart of the surrealist movement, Lamba a mercurial painter who was earning a living as a nude underwater dancer in Paris when they met. It was a passionate and equal pairing tested to its limits by the danger they faced during the war.
Jacqueline Lamba (left) with Frida Kahlo
Kahlo and Rivera are another interesting pair - perhaps the secret to creative and romantic success is space (in their case, separate houses if not tea three times a week as Pound suggested). I'd like to think creative partnerships are about inspiration, challenge and support but perhaps finding balance in a relationship is difficult enough without throwing professional competition into the mix.
How many truly successful pairings between writers, artists and musicians do you think there have been through history - who are your favourite art lovers?
Die letzen Tage des Sommers published August 2014 by Piper