The Road is Wider than Long

4th May 2022

Digby hall , hound street, sherborne at 3 pm and 7 pm

Images by kind permission and Copyright of Lee Miller Archives & The Penrose Collection. Image of Antony Penrose by Tony Tree.


The Road is Wider than Long is a love poem created as a photo-book by a surrealist artist, my father Roland Penrose. He wrote it for the new passionate love of his life, the American photographer Lee Miller, who became my mother. It recounts a  journey they made together through the Balkans in 1938, visiting isolated rural communities in Romania and photographing a way of life that had endured unchanged for centuries. In the book the images by Penrose merge seamlessly with his words, subtly and lovingly expressing his feelings for Lee and questioning if something so good can endure. It was the metaphor for the peasant life around them that was about to be brutally swept away by the Nazi occupation in the Second World War. This unique example of a photo-book by a British surrealist was published in 1939. Roland travelled to Cairo to give Lee the first copy, thus persuading her to leave her Egyptian husband and join him in London.

My presentation draws heavily on Lee and Roland`s photographs and the many letters they exchanged. It gives a unique insight into their lives and rural life in Romania.

Antony Penrose by Tony Tree 2011

Antony Penrose

For the past 30 years has conserved and disseminated the work of his parents, Lee Miller and Roland Penrose. He is the director of The Lee Miller Archives and The Penrose Collection at Farley Farm House in Sussex and has seen his parents’ work featured in major exhibitions at the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Whitworth.

He has lectured at museums and universities around the world, and made documentaries for television. Publications include The Lives of Lee Miller, Lee Miller’s War (editor), The Angel and the Fiend, The Home of the Surrealists, Roland Penrose the Friendly Surrealist and The Boy Who Bit Picasso.