The first great love of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s life was Adeline Fisher, whom he married in 1897. Although she became incapacitated by severe arthritis, she was able to inspire her husband and assist him with his music. In 1938, Ralph met Ursula Wood, his second great love. They began an affair. After the death of Ursula’s husband, Adeline invited Ursula to move in with them, which she did.
In this unusual ménage à trois, how much did Adeline know about her husband’s infidelity? Did Ralph love both women equally? How happy was Ursula with the situation? And how did each of them influence his music?
October 2022 marks the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Written and directed by Stuart Fortey
Performed by Jane Oakshott, Maggie Mash and Peter Spafford
Music arranged and played by Owain Shaw
Images by courtesy of the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust.