Virginia crafts poetry book of inspirations

Virginia McKenna - picture by Andy Gotts SUS-140922-121408001
Virginia McKenna - picture by Andy Gotts SUS-140922-121408001

‘Tonight The Moon is Red’, published by Muswell Press, is a very personal collection of poems beautifully crafted by legendary actress and wildlife campaigner, Virginia McKenna OBE, that recalls places, animals, concerns and people that have moved and inspired Virginia over the past 30 years.

Virginia’s award winning film and theatre career has seen her take leading roles in some of our most treasured and classic British movies, from Jack Lee’s A Town Like Alice, to her striking portrayal of the World War II heroine Violette Szabo in Carve Her Name with Pride. Along with her role as Anna the governess starring alongside Yul Brynner in the stage production of Rodgers and Hammerstein The King and I.

It is perhaps in the epic 1966 wildlife classic, Born Free where she starred alongside her late husband, Bill Travers, that Virginia is most fondly remembered.

The making of Born Free and meeting the Adamsons was to change Virginia’s life, and led her and Bill and their eldest son Will to dedicate their time and commitment to the suffering of wild animals around the world and the establishment of the internationally acclaimed wildlife charity, based in Horsham, the Born Free Foundation.

Lesser known is Virginia’s great passion and love of poetry and this moving collection of verse, beautifully illustrated by Alex Whitworth, explores the rich experiences and thoughts of her life and the world around her in its many forms.

So it is poignant that both in the 30th Anniversary of her charity and the three decades of which the poems span, ‘Tonight The Moon is Red’ is now published.

Celebrated author, Michael Morpurgo, who has written the foreword expressed his thoughts: ‘There is honesty and passion in the poetry of Virginia McKenna, openly declared, open-hearted.

“Every poem challenges, many hurt us – as they should. We flinch with her at the cruelty and exploitation of innocence, of beauty.

“We weep with her at the loss and the suffering and the longing. Yet we can feel, as she does, through it all, the hope and the beauty and the essential goodness in man and we can rejoice with her in this conviction. She has fought the good fight and these are her battle cries.”

‘Tonight The Moon is Red’ artfully captures the many thoughts and emotions we can all relate to and of our planet that Virginia so clearly cherishes and wants to protect.

The nuances of life and characters are vivid, from the haunting reminiscences of the Ring of Bright Water to the mesmerising rhythmic beat of nature and people that take you to her beloved Kenya and beyond.

This poetry book marks Virginia’s return to her love of literature following her widely acclaimed memoirs published in 2009 ‘The Life in My Years’.

Thirty years to remember and a life time of memories that are so eloquently served through her poetic prowess in the ‘Tonight The Moon is Red’.

Report and pictures contributed by the Born Free Foundation.