Elizabeth Smart and Robert MacBryde

Writer and Artist

By Fiona Green

An old Sohophile,I first came in 1961 as an art student & met some of my oldest & dearest friends here in the French pub.I now wish I had carried my camera - an old Zeiss Ikon - with me at all times.What memories ...I took this photo of writer,Elizabeth Smart & artist, Robert MacBryde outside the French in 1962.I was 18 years old.They were good to me.I loved singing & dancing with them. Robert came from the Modernist school of art in Glasgow,with his brightly coloured cubist studies.His lover & long time partner, Robert Colquhoun, had not long been dead.

Elizabeth wrote "By Grand Central Station" the poignant love story which matched the book,"The Dead Seagull"  written by her lover,the poet George Barker. Many artists & writers frequented the French house in those days: Francis Bacon,Patrick Swift,Tim Behrens,William Crozier,John Deakin,David Wright,Paul Potts, Colin MacInnes,Bruce & Jeffrey Bernard,Lucian Freud,Harry Diamond & many many others.Robert lived at Elizabeth's flat,under the stairs & I heard him weeping at night.  He died in 1966 aged 53 in a car accident in Dublin.He is buried in Maybole cemetery,Ayrshire & you can see where Colquhoun is buried in Kilmarnock, from his graveside.

A marvellous old BBC black & white documentary film exists, of the two Roberts made by Ken Russell in the 1950's showing them painting together in Suffolk.Elizabeth died in 1986 & is buried in St George's Churchyard South Elham,Suffolk.

Books: Review by Fiona Green - The Last Bohemians: By Roger Bristow. 

'By Heart' : A Life of Elizabeth Smart,Rosemary Sullivan,Flamingo Press

(an imprint of Harper Collins)

'The Chameleon Poet' : A life of George Barker' : Robert Fraser, Cape

Blog : National Gallery of Modern Art,Edinburgh  https://www.nationalgalleries.org/aboutus/blog/the-two-roberts/

In Memory Of Robert MacBryde by Fiona Green 2015

The screaming yellow

Of a MacBryde lemon

On a chequered tablecloth

Lies next to a luscious melon.


Your face,Robert, a haunted mask

Gives nothing away

When I ask how I came to be here

In a stranger’s house, seeking a ghost.


We danced, remember?

Sang mournful Celtic songs in a Soho bar;

Until the place emptied

And you steered me back to Paddington;


Back to the Barker mansion flat,

And your little room under the stairs;

Where I heard you

Weep the whole night long for your lost love.

Fiona Green 2014





Photo:Elizabeth Smart Barker and Robert MacBryde

Elizabeth Smart Barker and Robert MacBryde

Fiona Green 1961

Photo:Robert MacBryde

Robert MacBryde

Fiona Green 1961

This page was added by Fiona Green on 27/07/2011.

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