In 1970 Anthony Burgess settled with his wife, Liana, and their son, Paolo Andrea, in Bracciano, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) north-west of Rome. A fifteenth-century house on the Piazza Padella became the family’s main home and the new centre of Burgess’s professional life. The family’s years in Bracciano are particularly well documented, as […]

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 […]

‘The history of England, from the time of the Roman occupation until twenty years ago, has been about the insistence of a very insular people on cutting itself off from that huge and dangerous continent that lies to its east and is separated by a mere twenty miles of sea’ (Anthony Burgess, ‘England in Europe’, […]