Born on 24 November 1920, Llewela ‘Lynne’ Wilson, Anthony Burgess’s first wife, had a short but influential life. Despite Burgess’s characterisation of Lynne as ‘unliterary’ in his autobiography, she had a rich interest in literature and not only contributed to Burgess’s own writing, but collaborated with him directly on a series of translations. Burgess’s anxiety […]

Our new exhibition, Anthony Burgess in Rome 1970-1975, explores the vibrant intellectual landscape of the city, which inspired Anthony Burgess to create some of his most ambitious fiction and music. Liana Burgess, née Macellari, had spent time in Rome during the 1950s and had already met some of the artists and writers who were to dominate the […]

In this edition of the podcast, Andrew Biswell and Graham Foster discuss Burgess’s experience of Rome, from his two novels Beard’s Roman Women and ABBA ABBA, to his engagement with Italian culture and the circle of artists and writers he associated with during his time living in the Eternal City.

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 […]

If Beard’s Roman Women is an odd book, ABBA ABBA, the other half of Burgess’s reaction to his time in Italy in the 1970s, is perhaps even odder still. The book is divided into two sections: Part One is a short historical novel of sorts, while Part Two consists mainly of poems translated into English […]

ABBA ABBA is one of Anthony Burgess’s most inventive works, blending historical fiction, poetry and translation into a novel which celebrates John Keats and the sonnet form. Set in Rome during the winter of 1820-21, the first part of ABBA ABBA recounts Keats’s final weeks and his eventual death from tuberculosis in a house on […]

Beard’s Roman Women is an odd book. The title, changed by the American publisher from Rome in the Rain, seems to suggest a historical novel, set in the Roman Empire. The text is partnered with strange photographs of ghostly Roman monuments, reflected in puddles and in glass. The story is clearly autobiographical yet is told […]

The Irwell Edition of the Works of Anthony Burgess, published in hardback by Manchester University Press, is a new series which aims to bring all of Burgess’s novels and non-fiction books back into print. Each volume contains an editor’s introduction, a newly edited text, extensive notes and annotations, plus previously unpublished materials drawn from the […]

Sir Vidia Naipaul, who has died at the age of 85, was one of the foremost English-language writers of the late twentieth century. A novelist, memoirist and travel writer, he scoured the globe in search of resonant stories, which he told in a variety of different narrative forms. Born into an Indian family at Chaguanas […]

Burgess’s first visit to Rome, by Katherine Adamson…