Things in Heaven and Earth

The mysterious affair of a Hollywood legend and a British writer

There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy
Hamlet (1.5.167-8) William Shakespeare

About the Book

In the late 1970s at a dinner party in Los Angeles a famous actress and a then little-known English playwright met for the first time. It was no ordinary meeting. As they shook hands they were simultaneously propelled into an altered state. It was as though some unknown  force had torn their lives from them and left the  stranded with no ground on which to stand. After the initial shock had worn off, they both describe what happened as feeling completely natural, as though it had been waiting all their lives for the right moment to appear.

What happened between these two strangers may be likened to accounts of individual spontaneous awakenings, but the uniqueness here is that they acted as triggers for one another: a possibly hitherto unknown phenomenon in the history of transformation.

“Whatever it was came on ceaselessly, waves of unconcern, fierce and gentle in turn, making of us things that could no longer know.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Things in Heaven and Earth breaks new ground in telling the true story of an unlikely relationship between movie icon Lauren Bacall and a reclusive Welsh playwright. Until now, the estates of Bacall and her former husband, Humphrey Bogart, seem to have gone to great – and successful – lengths in preventing this hitherto hidden episode of the actress’s life from entering the public realm.

But in 2007 Jane Metcalfe, the former wife of Colin Haydn Evans – the dramatist and one half of this unusual love story – was granted sole access to the couple’s intimate letters and diaries from that time, which is 1979 and beyond. Drawing on this authentic material, Metcalfe shows that, as well as the undeniable physical attraction, the couple also underwent what might be best described as paranormal experiences, leading to deep revelations of a mystical nature. However sceptical the reader might be about these testimonies to the esoteric, the documents do represent a previously undiscovered piece in the complex jigsaw that is Bacall’s interior life. I myself have read these documents and I can guarantee that they are one hundred per cent genuine. It was also exciting to be one of the few people in the world to have ever read Bacall’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

Extract from the Foreword to the new edition, by Robert Nurden 


Available at Amazon 

How I came to reconnect with the playwright – my first husband – a quarter of a century after the event and to be in possession of the material that forms the basis of this book, is equally compelling. Nothing, it would appear, is by chance, or as it seems.

“We resist the present only because it threatens the story we have about ourselves.”

The writings that emerge from the couple’s experience stand with the most prominent teachings of ancient and contemporary wisdom. What they say has a timeless relevance that takes us deeply into the nature of being. Moving beyond fixed definitions it profoundly challenges assumptions about the nature of perceived reality, and points to the simplicity of that which we all crave: how to live at peace with ourselves and with others in the world.

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. – Carl Jung


Colin introduces his first meeting with the actress

I guess by way of some explanation we should start at the very beginning and what I was doing in Los Angeles in the first place. It was the late 1970’s when I first came to the States. I’d had my first play produced in England, and on the back of that my agent thought a trip to Hollywood would further my career.  It seemed fairly convincing at the time! That’s how I met Steve who was heading the project I had come to work on. Within a week Steve and I were almost like brothers, which rather surprised us both.  It seemed so unlikely. Steve was Hollywood born and bred and I was very English.  Not the most obvious of combinations! But at the time, everything seemed unlikely. Not one thing was usual. It felt rather uncanny at times, as if something very odd was always lying in wait.

Steve took me under his wing socially and I had an immediate entree into Hollywood social life. Shattered illusions became the order of the day!  Things seemed very surreal for a while. But almost everyone he knew was famous in one way or another. It was something he just took for granted as he had mixed in those circles since childhood. It had a certain fascination at the time. All a bit “Wizard of Oz”! At some point Steve asked me if I would like to meet his mother. He asked if I knew of her and of course I said I did.  I had seen her in films. He hadn’t bothered to mention her before. She was just his mother, after all. So I was invited to dinner.

The Dinner Party

The initial meeting was very startling.  One night in the hallway of a house, for no apparent reason and without any understanding at all we brought each other to a halt.  It happened instantly. We were deeply astonished by one another – and yet immediately known to the other. Everything stopped, and nothing new began.  We didn’t move beyond that point. We were losing ground with every moment, until very soon there was none left.  There and then we began to live quite helplessly. We seemed like idiots for a while, mumbling pleasantries. Events occurred, but nothing happened. The usual incentives had gone.  There was nowhere to go, and nothing to do. Yet behind it all was this immense value to it. It made us feel very safe – and found. How you would actually describe it, I’m not too sure: that a simple meeting could instantly wipe clean the slate of two people’s lives is not easy to understand.  It can only happen once, so no comparisons are possible.

Somebody asked me if it had changed our lives. That kind of happening doesn’t so much change your life as replace it.  It’s that sharp and that robs you of the means of understanding. The old structure goes; the impressions end.  The words simply trail on behind, always baffled, never knowing what to say for the best.  It had nothing to do with anything anyone could ever understand.  That’s the crux of it, I think.  Others tended to think we were always talking about something different – at which they could personally aim – whereas, to us, it was no more significant than remembering to feed the dog!  But perhaps rather more creatively, you know! Some might say it is some sort of accident, happening by itself. That sounds reasonable enough if you’re looking for an explanation, but the fact is, looking back at what was learned from that time, there is no need for anything to happen.  It was over before it began.  You are always in a single place – forever – so why bother about what you feel might be involved on some imagined journey?  Where is there to go? How could you get there – and why? And what’s so wrong with that?  It’s very peaceful not knowing!

“I believe people’s lives often run in parallel, and that it is more common than might be imagined. It might even be the norm for all I know. What is less usual, perhaps, is when such parallels actually intersect, at which time all sorts of seemingly odd things occur.”

Colin Haydn Evans