Anthony Burgess’s time in Rome was one of the most productive periods in his creative life. With his wife Liana and son Andrea, he lived in an apartment on the Piazza di Santa Cecilia in the Trastevere district of Rome, and in a house in the lakeside town of Bracciano outside the city. Burgess wrote novels, composed music and translated poetry, inspired by the Rome of antiquity and that of the present, and stimulated by the intellectual and social landscape of the city.
Our new exhibition, Anthony Burgess in Rome, takes as its starting point Burgess’s two Roman novels: ABBA ABBA, about the poets Keats and Belli; and Beard’s Roman Women, a semi-autobiographical work about an author who moves to the city. This novel was written in response to a series of photographs of Rome by David Robinson, whose images are displayed on the walls of the gallery.
Burgess’s circle in Italy included writers such as Umberto Eco, Muriel Spark, Alberto Moravia and Mario Praz, and the composers Cathy Berberian and Luciano Berio. As well as novels, his time in Rome produced the television series Jesus of Nazareth for Franco Zeffirelli, and the beginnings of a stage musical, Blooms of Dublin, based on James Joyce’s Ulysses. Archive photographs, books from the Burgess Foundation’s collection, and the television documentary Anthony Burgess’s Rome (1976) tell the story.
The exhibition is free and open every weekday from 10am until 3pm, and in the evenings during events. Find out more about Anthony Burgess and Rome here.
ABBA ABBA is published as part of the Irwell Edition of the Works of Anthony Burgess. Edited with an introduction and notes by Paul Howard, the book can be purchased from Manchester University Press here.