Hayley Radford explores the influence of significant women on the life and work of poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Regarded by many as one of the most significant German-speaking literary figures of the early Modern period, Rilke wrote lyrical verse and prose including Sonnets to Orpheus and Letter to A Young Poet.

Hayley examines how he was dominated by the love of his mother and later pushed himself to the very limits of romantic love. The poet threw himself into endless heartbreak, many relationships, even abandoning a wife and child. He became the passive lover of a series of forthright, older women, including a princess and some heiresses, all in pursuit of the sweet agonies with which he could infuse his writing.

Featuring contributions from Rilke experts Dirk Heisserer, Professor Karen Leeder, Dr Ben Hutchinson and Professor Von Bulow.

Broadcast Dates

  • 20090510
  • 20090516