Franciszka Themerson

Two women shaped the reception of Jarry’s writings in the English-speaking world. For a 1951 edition of Ubu roi, artist and small-press publisher Franciszka Themerson (1907–1988) illustrated virtually every page and rendered Barbara Wright’s translation in calligraphic handwriting. Their version of the play became the most widely disseminated text by Jarry in English. Themerson’s engagement with Jarry persisted for several decades. She went on to design sets, masks, and costumes for the landmark production of the play in 1964 at the Marionetteatern in Stockholm.

Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), Ubu roi: A Drama in 5 Acts, translated by Barbara Wright (1915–2009), illustrations by Franciszka Themerson (1907–1988) (London: Gaberbocchus Press, 1951). The Morgan Library & Museum, purchased for the Robert J. and Linda Klieger Stillman Pataphysics Collection on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2019. PML 198260.  © Themerson Estate.