In these new novel-biograhies Ken Russell reinvents the quintessentially English Edward Elgar (1857-1934) and Frederick Delius (1862-1934) for the printed page. Here the two musicians' —both provincial lads —come alive in a new way in biographical novels that are revealing yet boisterously entertaining —occasionally outrageous and iconoclastic.
In Elgar: The Erotic Variation, Russell explodes his own myth of offering the last word on his subject. Here the man emerges from Victorian morality complete with mistresses and muses in the form of the women who captivated his soul, including his childhood sweetheart Helen Weaver and the emancipated headmistress Rosa Burley.
Delius: A Moment with Venus is largely based on the recollections of the composer's amanuensis, Eric Fenby, who became a friend of the author during the making of the Monitor drama-documentary. Some of the extra-marital material in this novel was unknown to Russell when he made his film, but the baptism of Frederick Delius the Yorkshireman —as "Fritz" —is the hilarious starting point for the revelations about the secret life of this cantankerous old pagan genius.