Special thanks must go to members of the two families who have given me access to personal material about Muriel:
First and foremost, to her niece, Julia McLaven, whose generous, open-ended loan of Muriel’s professional and private albums of the ‘20s and ‘30s has made this account possible; also for her welcome to me as the writer of the project, and for her delightful reminiscences about her aunt and the Barnett family – a strong basis for this story. Then to Barry Clarke, Muriel’s first cousin twice removed, who discovered me on the Internet, while Googling the name of an unknown woman on a family photograph, a dancer called Murilova. Barry tirelessly mined the memories of his relations, particularly Cliff Abelman and Shirley Barnett Rodwell, who kindly allowed their information about Muriel to be passed on to me. Most importantly, if Barry had not found and put me in touch with Julia, this story might not have been written. Not content with that piece of detective work, he went on to seek out Frans’ grand-daughter, Daphny Muriloff, who has filled in so many gaps; to Daphny, my grateful thanks for passing on to me her affectionate memories of her exceptional grandfather.
Warmest thanks go to Grace Greenway for her friendship and for her ever-ready willingness to share memories of Muriel. Her astounding recall, her deep knowledge of the world of ballet, and her persistent pursuit of accuracy have all contributed hugely to Muriel’s story.
I’m immensely indebted to Sandra McAuliffe for lending me the Murilova files, given to her by Grace Greenway. They’ve been a major source for my detective work, revealing more and more, month by month.
I particularly want to say thank you to Jane Pritchard, Curator of Dance at the Victoria and Albert Museum, for her kindness and personal involvement in the search for details of Muriel’s engagements with the Russian Ballets. It was Jane who discovered Muriel’s alias, Muriel Lawrence, a discovery that opened doors to new areas of research. Jane’s encyclopaedic knowledge of early twentieth-century dance has been inspiring, as have her two marvellous books on Diaghilev and Pavlova.
My dear friend Sue Palmer was in on this project from the beginning. I want to thank her for matching my excitement step by step, and for sharing with me her wide knowledge of ballet in general and of the Russians in particular.
Two other good friends whose input has been invaluable are David Taylor and Jenny Berwyn-Jones. Affectionate thanks to them for their help and encouragement.
I am very grateful to Cherry Le Poidevin, née Bristowe, for allowing me to use her wonderfully vivid memories of Muriel. If only I could have included them all!
Last, but emphatically not least, I want to thank my husband, Andrew Buchanan, for everything he has done – in all possible departments – to help this project come to fruition; but most of all for never failing to share my enthusiasm for discovering and writing Muriel’s story.