About Merlynda Robinson (LLAM)
aka: 'Miss Merlynda'
- Ventriloquist & Puppeteer
- Award-Winning Children's Poet (aka: 'Merlynda Jelly-Jaws')
- Award-Winning Children's Songwriter
- Award-Winning Children's Ballet/Dance Composer
I was born into a professional theatrical and musical family: My grandfather was a professional Musician, Conductor and Bandmaster, my Grandmother was a professional Concert Pianist, my cousin was the Principal of Leeds College of Music in addition to being the CEO of The Society of Organists - and the principal Organist at Leeds Cathedral (among others) - my Aunt was a professional Contralto Opera Singer and performed in both of the original West End Stage Productions of ‘Oliver!’ with Ron Moody and ‘Half A Sixpence’ with Tommy Steele - she also performed in BOTH of the much-loved film versions too. My Mother was an Opera Singer - and my Father an Actor-Singer. My mother and father also founded and managed a professional Opera Company in the 1960s which is still going strong today - in addition to performing - individually – in a diverse variety of Opera Productions - across the UK.
I trained with The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA) for 10 years - becoming an Associate and Licentiate of LAMDA – and was awarded 4 Honours Medals in Speech and Acting. I finalised my professional training as an Actor by successfully completing the rigorously demanding ‘The Mastery’ at The Actors Institute, in London. I trained in Ballet, Tap and Ballroom with the Royal Academy of Dance – and trained in playing Pianoforte with The Guildhall School of Music.
My childhood and teenage years were almost entirely spent performing in operetta, musical and dramatic plays, pantomimes and cabaret revues in Theatres, Concert Halls and Stately Homes - and too - in creating and performing my own comical and romantic performance poetry, monologues, novelty and romantic songs - and writing musical plays - even composing an Operetta!
There was little time for anything else! But during my infrequent ‘resting’ periods, I created puppets, sculptures, cartoons, drawings and paintings – and filled my Music Textbooks with poems - lyrics - monologues and melodies - much to my piano teacher’s chagrin!
Later, I studied Ventriloquism - and - Punch & Judy Puppetry - and added these to my professional performing repertoire as: ‘Professor Merlynda Melodrama’s Punch & Judy Puppet Show’ (‘That’s The Way To Do It!’) - and - ‘Barley The Street Clown & Ventriloquist’.
I now perform live Walkabout, Mix and Mingle and Street Ventriloquism - and - Walkabout and Street Marionette Puppetry - and devise and perform Ventriloquist and Marionette Puppet Performances as 'Mad Miss Merlynda'!
In the Noughties I founded ‘The Ventriloquist Club of Great Britain’ bringing together Ventriloquists from all over the UK - such as Nina Conti and Steve Hewlett (the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ Finalist) - and - I create and conduct Professional Ventriloquist Training Sessions for Entertainers - and - Comical Ventriloquism Workshops – for theatrical groups and organisations, across the UK.
I thoroughly enjoy performing live not only as a Mix and Mingle - and - Street - Ventriloquist and Marionette Puppeteer - but also - performing Ventriloquism live on the Radio! Something that Peter Brough with ‘Archie Andrews’ pioneered back in the 1950s – though my idol was Ray Alan and ‘Lord Charles’.
I recorded a Ventriloquism/Poetry Audio Book on CD in which I perform my epically melodramatic Fairy-Tale Poem: ‘The Tale of The Goat & The Wolf’ together with the voice of my cheeky Ventriloquist Puppet: ‘Duncan L DoLittle’ – and this particular published Fairy-Tale poem and Audio Recording is now part of the English Poetry Syllabus - in Albania - taught under the auspices of world-renowned Verse-Fabulist, Ferit Lamaj.
I love to perform with a wide selection of different types of puppets – many that I’ve made – and too with my collection of vintage puppets – and they have some jolly silly character names and voices too - such as: ‘Corky The Crocodile’ - ‘Piccadilly The Parrot’ - and - ‘Gilbert The Gorilla’.
I became a professional Cartoonist – aka: ‘Kitty Pigfish’ - after studying Fine Art at Winchester School of Art, Painting at The OCA and Art & Communications at Goldsmiths University, in the early 1990s. My artworks are exhibited in commercial London Galleries, regional Galleries, in Scotland, regularly since 1996 at the ‘International Salon of Cartoonists’ in France, in Sweden, and in the USA - and many are commissioned internationally. My artworks also form part of Private Collections - such as those owned by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother - and - the McLaren Formula One Team Principal - and many are published in books about professional ‘Illustration’. One of my favourite Commissions was creating a triple caricature-cartoon of Bernard Cribbins, Anton Rodgers and Geoffrey Palmer as ‘Garden Gnomes’. Another highlight was creating a large Cricket Scene Cartoon for The Lords Taverners - and - attending an Auction of my artworks - by Christies.
In 1997 - I was commissioned by The Art Institute to create, write and illustrate a 850,000 word Art Tutorial Course - titled: ‘Master The Art’ which was published by The Art Institute in 1998. (My Exhibitions and Client List is available on request - if of interest.) In the late 1990s, I owned and managed ‘The Barley-Brut Art Gallery’ in Hampshire and ran regular Exhibitions and Art Workshops within The South Downs National Park region in West Sussex - and across the south of England.
In addition to being a Ventriloquist - Puppeteer - Children's Poet and Author - Children's Songs Singer-Songwriter - Children's Ballet and Dance Composer -Puppet-Maker - and - Artist-Cartoonist - I became a professional Astrology Columnist with: The Observer Newspaper & Magazine Series – was a Subs Editor with: The Financial Times (FinTech) - and - a professional Presentations Scriptwriter with: Q International. I was also Assistant to The Chief Barker of The Variety Club of Great Britain and the MD of Columbia-EMI-Warner Films in Soho - and to the Lecturers at The College of Law.
In the Noughties I was the Founder-Editor of: The Poetry Box Magazine – an international monthly in-print and illustrated A4 poetry magazine. And in 2018 – after many requests from my ‘Poetry Box’ poets to create a new poetry magazine, I launched: The Bucks Mills Poetry Magazine – a bi-monthly, printed and illustrated A4-sized poetry magazine – and at this time, I also created my Bucks Mills inspired Poetry Collection: ‘The Romance of Bucks Mills’ – which is published - and Reading/Review Copies are available to Order.
Also in 2018 - I became ‘Poet-In-Residence’ at ‘The Cabin’ in Bucks Mills (by courtesy The National Trust) – and created a new Collection of ‘Cabin-inspired Romantic Poetry’ – and – a ‘Collection of Comical Odes & Ditties’, illustrated with my simple Ink Drawings and Cartoons. These two ‘Cabin and Quay’ inspired poetry booklets are also available to Order. I also opened my little Poetry Gallery: ‘The Bucks Mills Gallery’ to poets and visitors regularly from 2018 - until recently.
In Spring 2019, I launched a brand new mini-poetry festival: ‘The Bucks Mills Poetry Festival: A Gathering of Poets’ - bringing together poets regionally, nationally and internationally. The quality of poetry and performance was outstanding and I was delighted to welcome and present poets from America, Ireland and the North of England, as well as regional professionals from Bath, Bristol, Plymouth and Exeter. And as a part of the Poetry Festival, I conducted a live Poetry Reading at The Cabin in Bucks Mills.
As a professional Ventriloquist, Puppeteer, Punch & Judy Puppet Show Professor, Children's Poet & Author, Children's Songwriter and Children's Ballet/Dance Composer - I’m happiest - and perhaps most popularly known - for creating and performing my Comical Fairytale Poems, Verse-Fables, Nonsense Poetry, Children's Stories, Children's Songs - and - Ballet/Dance Music For Children - blended together - with my Ventriloquist Puppets, Marionettes and Punch & Judy Show Puppets.
My Poetry & Song Awards – which Total 14 to date - include:
The Forward Press Golden Grove Poetry Award, The Leaf Book-Jacket Award, The Poetry Rivals National Poetry Slam, The PIM Poetry Award, The Serendipity Poetry Prize, The Portico Poetry Prize, Library Book-Jacket Award, The WM Composer’s Award For Song, The UK International Songwriters Contest - and – as a Selected Songwriter at MiDEM, Cannes, France.
Over 100 of my Comical Songs For Children - and - my Keyboard/Piano Ballet and Dance Instrumental Compositions For Children - are published and recorded to date - and my Children's Piano and Keyboard Suite: 'The Toys In The Attic' was choreographed by The Royal Academy of Dance and premiered at: The EQ International Festival of Dance, in Ireland.
My Published Solo Poetry Collections - which Total 16 to date - include:
The Romance of Bucks Mills, War Poems: A Collection For Remembrance, Naughty! Naughty!, ACT! Alone Monologues, Naughty But Nice!, The Bucks Mills Funny Times!, Merlynda: Poet-In-Residence in The Cabin, 6 FairyTales & Verse-Fables 4 You!, Tale of The Goat & The Wolf (also an Audio Book), Jolly Rhymes!, Tiggee Tatter & Ticklee, Flight Or Fight!, The Scarlette Book, Horror Poetry, Kitty Pigfish’s Astrological Canines, Merlynda Requests The Pleasure (Audio Book).
My poems are also widely published in a variety of Poetry Anthologies – 47 to date – and these are listed on my website – and include:
Poets Ensemble, Prime Time Poets, Poetry Rivals 2009, Poetry Rivals 2012, Poetry Rivals 2014, Forward Poetry: A World of Verse 2011, Forward Poets 2008, Forward Poetry Poets 2012, Poetry Now 1997, Poetry Now 2013, The Great British Write Off, My Regards To You, Endless Love, Happily Ever After, The World At War, Spring To Life, Diamond Jubilee, Womanly Thoughts, Poetic Destinies, Inspired, Essence of Love, Animal Antics, Echoes of Life, The Gift of Prayer, Into The Shadows, Wasn’t It Funny When, It’s The Way They Tell ‘Em, A Royal Century, Joyful Thoughts of Christmas, United In Inspiration, In Those Days, Words In Praise of Ned Ludd, A Little Book of Serendipity, Cold Shivers: A Collection of Short Stories, The Bordon Reflections War Poetry Collection (you can read some of these poems online), The National Poetry Library, The Royal Naval Poetry Collection, The Poetry Society, Mirror-Mirror.
My Festival Performances - and Other Live Performances - include:
The Chichester Festival, The Havant Literary Festival – and as Comedy Performance Poet Support Act to Mike Harding, The Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park, London, Milford Festival, Ripley Festival, The Elvetham Country Estate, The Beer & Oyster Festival, Woof!, The Guild Hall, Guildford, Civic Hall/ G-Live, privately for Baroness Golding and The Law Lords, Port Solent, on the London Fringe Theatre circuit - in addition to headlining at a variety of Poetry and Spoken Word Events across England.
My Live Poetry and Ventriloquism Radio Broadcasts - to date - include:
BBC Radio Solent, BBC Radio South, BBC 3, Counties, Radio Delta, Spirit FM, Radio Lion (the recording of this live poetry broadcast is frequently re-broadcast).
I’m particularly grateful to have been anointed BBC Radio’s ‘Poetry Expert’ during the BBC’s ‘Functional Poetry Initiative’.
For more info about my awards, publications and live performances - please visit my website: www.Merlynda.com – and – to Order my Poetry Booklets, please visit: The Devon Book Society website: www.DevonBookSociety.com - and/or - click on my: 'Miss Merlynda's Books For Children' page.
And – Just to Add - Every Saturday & Sunday Throughout The Year - I perform a Comedy Puppet Show Matinee For Children – (Suitable for Ages: 4 years to 6 years) - at my little 'Miss Merlynda Puppet Theatre' in Bucks Mills, near Bideford, in North Devon - and if you would like to Book-up Seats to come along and enjoy the fun – Please click on the 'Contact Us' page for further info of my Latest Puppet Theatre Shows - and - for details on How To Book Seats.
With Very Kindest Wishes - Puppeterly Yours!
Merlynda Robinson (Miss Merlynda - Merlynda Jelly-Jaws)
Miss Merlynda Puppet Theatre and Puppet Museum
St Anne’s Cottage
Devon EX39 5DY