Correspondence from Jenny Nicholson to Graves

Scope and Content

Jenny Nicholson's correspondence to her father describe family life, her career and social life, from dancer and actress in wartime Britain, to Women's Auxiliary Air Force officer, to war correspondent and Rome-based journalist. Both her first husband, Alex Clifford whom she married in 1945, and her second, Patrick Crosse whom she married in 1952, were also journalists. Her social circle in Italy - she lived in the Torre del Grillo in Rome and owned the Castelletto in Portofino - was wide and included Diana Cooper, Diana Graves, Max Beerbohm, Iris Tree, Milton and Judy Gendel, Tennessee Williams, Jerome Robbins, Claire Boothe Luce, Tom Matthews, Martha Gellhorn, Bridget Boland, Ronald and Kay Searle, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Isiah Berlin. She also knew many of the Graves's own friends, including Ricardo and Betty Sicre, Selwyn and Tania Jepson and Peggy Glanville Hicks. Some letters are addressed to Beryl Graves as well as Robert; there is one letter addressed to Lucia Graves (9 June 1956). Through her journalism she reported on such diverse characters as the racing driver Mike Hawthorn, Padre Pio, the Shah of Iran, the Dame of Sark, Salvador Dali and the death of Pope John XXIII. Large parts of the correspondence concern projects to bring Graves's work to stage or screen. In 1955 she tried to encourage Ingrid Bergman star in a film version of 'Homer's Daughter'; in 1956 she was involved in attempts to make a film of 'I, Claudius' starring Alec Guinness and Anna Magnani; in 1959 she worked with Graves on the unrealised musical, 'Song of Songs'; in 1960 she became involved with Bill Morris and Alastair Reid to attempt to make a film of 'The White Goddess' and travelled to New York to further this and other projects; in 1961 she tried to break into television production, one project being a film about her father which got the attention of Kenneth Tynan. From 1960 onwards Nicholson accompanied her husband on several extensive tours of Africa, India and Pakistan in connection with his work for Reuters.


Correspondence arrived arranged chronologically, and with occasional corrections to the chronology this order has been maintained.

Personal Names