Beard's Roman Women

Scope and Content

First published in Great Britain in 1976, the novel Beard's Roman Women is set in Rome and tells the story of Ronald Beard, a middle-aged screenwriter with a passion for the poet Giuseppe Giacchino Belli's verse, who is haunted by his deceased wife's spirit. He falls in love with Paola Lucrezia Belli, a photographer, who is a direct descendant of the poet.

The typescripts of the novel are titled (in order of composition) 'Art to Come' and 'Rome in the Rain'. Beard's Roman Women was a title imposed by the novel's US publisher, and also used for the UK editions. It was not Burgess's preferred title, and all translations of the novel revert to the title, Rome in the Rain. (Several French translations, such as that published by Seghers in 1978, suggest that Burgess also considered using the title 'All Widowers are Murderers')

The Italian producer Vincenzo Labella planned to turn Beard's Roman Women into a film, which prompted Burgess to compose a score. Although the film was never produced, the proposed project spawned two compositions; Rome in the Rain and Song for Saint Cecilia's Day.

This series consists of fragments of drafts of the novel and a copy of an illustrated title-page by Burgess.

Source: "A Clockwork Counterpoint: the Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess" by Paul Phillips (Manchester University Press, 2010)