Ursula Vaughan Williams, Poet And Muse



Ursula Vaughan Williams was most famous for being the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams's second wife. However, she was a published poet who contributed poems for her husband to set and collaborated creatively on various occasions with him and other composers.

The writer Irma Kurtz tells her story and looks at her poetry with the help of the Vaughan Williams' friends and colleagues. She discovers a true love story. Ursula met Vaughan Williams when they were both married to other people. He was much older than her. Her husband died during the war and Ralph's wife spent much of her life in a wheel chair. Ursula became the lover and creative collaborator of the composer, even moving into his marital home with the blessing of his first wife. When Adeline Vaughan Williams died, Ralph and Ursula could be married.

Ursula's poetry speaks of love, nature and memory. Her masterpiece, The Dictated Theme was written in the days after Vaughan Williams died and she described the feeling that he was with her, dictating the verse.

Until her own death in 2007, aged 96, Ursula remained a leading figure on the artistic and social scene of London and continued her husband's work supporting English music.

Interviews include Michael Kennedy, biographer of Ralph Vaughan Williams; close friends Joyce Kennedy and Eva Hornstein; Stephen Connock, editor of Ursula Vaughan Williams' collected poems; and Hugh Cobbe, formerly Head of Music Collections for the British Library.

Readings by Isla Blair.

Producer: Laura Parfitt

A White Pebble Media production for BBC Radio 4.