Ralph and an admirer,
several decades his junior
Ralph Vaughan Williams, probably Britain’s greatest composer and my personal favourite, was a passionate man. More than that, he was both an incurable romantic and a dedicated Romantic. He loved the company of young people, especially women, and a close friend said of him:
He not only loved women, he liked them. And he needed them to fuel his creativity.
But it could sometimes be a problem for the women involved. One young student, several decades his junior, fell in love with him (apparently it was not uncommon for women several decades his junior to fall in love with him, even though he has been described as looking like ‘a sack of potatoes’ and ‘an old sofa with the stuffing hanging out’.) VW visited her often, but never entered into a relationship and she was deeply disappointed. I suppose the charge might be laid against him that he used her affections to stir his creative juices, but I doubt he did so gratuitously.
Interestingly, his second wife – the lovely Ursula who was, herself, twenty eight years his junior – told him she thought it immoral that he should have gone so far but no further. That’s an interesting and magnanimous variation on the usual moralistic viewpoint, and maybe ‘immoral’ is not quite the right term. Nevertheless…
…I think I’ll stop there before I get into TMI territory.