The Eve of St Venus

Scope and Content

In 1951 Burgess wrote his first original play, a three-act theological comedy called The Eve of St Venus. The story draws on the legend, first written down in the eleventh century by Florence of Worcester, of a young man who, placing his wedding ring on the finger of the statue of Venus in his father's garden, finds himself married to the goddess.

Burgess had first envisaged his work as an opera libretto but the libretto grew too long for an opera, and Burgess saw that it would work better as a stage play. Once the script was complete, he tried to get the play performed in Oxfordshire (where he was then living) but found the local drama groups unwilling to do so. The text was eventually published in 1964, rewritten as a novella.

In later years, Liana Burgess worked on an Italian translation of the play.

Also known as "Gods Have Hot Backs".

This series consists of a copy of a draft of the play by Burgess, and draft Italian translations of the play by Liana Burgess.

Source: "The Real Life of Anthony Burgess" by Andrew Biswell (Picador, 2005)


The later date of 2011 refers to the approximate date on which a photocopy of an original typescript was taken. (The original typescript dated from 1951.)