Search the letters

The Vaughan Williams Foundation has made over 5000 items freely available: chiefly letters from Ralph Vaughan Williams, but including some responses which shed light on the subject matter, and also a number of letters from Adeline and Ursula Vaughan Williams. These provide further information and often include messages or observations from Ralph, and there are also letters from Adeline and Ursula written on behalf of the couple. The text of letters written by RVW and UVW remain the copyright of the Foundation.

The letters are in tabular form and can be sorted by column, or filtered by any keyword including name, musical title, year or subject (singly or in combination). Partial matches will also be found, e.g. searching “sky” will also find “Stravinsky”. To search for a phrase use inverted commas, e.g. “New York”.

To search by letter number, include the prefix VWL, e.g. VWL123.

Filter letters

Letter No. Title Date Date on Letter
VWL2963 Verse to Gerald Finzi [by Finzi] 195408-- [August 1954]
VWL3488 Transcript of VW’s contribution to Elgar Centenary Programme on the BBC 195705-- [May 1957]
VWL1230 Telegram from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Elisabeth Lutyens 19391213 13 Dec 39
VWL1412 Talk by Ralph Vaughan Williams on folk song music for the BBC 19400327 [27 March 1940]
VWL2676 Reference for Leonard Hancock from Ralph Vaughan Williams 19530415 15th April, l953.
VWL2890 Presentation of Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams to President A. Whitney Griswold by Dean Luther Noss. 19541201 [1 Dec 1954]
VWL4115 Postcard from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Mrs Turner 19512-- [December, 1954]
VWL4114 Postcard from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Mrs Turner 19551201 [?December, 1955?]
VWL3502 Piece on Ralph Vaughan Williams by John Ireland 195809-- [1958]
VWL2020 Oxford University Press file note on Ralph Vaughan Williams’s English version of Bach’s B minor Mass by Norman Peterkin 19451120 20.11.45
VWL3614 Note on Cecil Sharp’s accompaniments of folk songs 1935---- [ca 1935]
VWL790 Note from Cecil Sharp [to Ralph Vaughan Williams] 192405-- [Written before June 1924]
VWL3920 Newspaper extract from The Times announcing the marriage of Vaughan Williams and Ursula Wood 19530209 Monday February 9, [1953]
VWL794 Memorandum on the General Strike by Ralph Vaughan Williams 192605-- [May 1926]
VWL1641 Memorandum from Norman Peterkin to Sir Humphrey Milford 19420424 April 24th 1942
VWL3622 Memo from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the EFDS Committee 193603-- March, 1936
VWL2344 Lord Lechery’s song 195105-- [?May] 1951
VWL2964 Lines by Gerald Finzi 195408-- [August 1954]
VWL493 Letter to Ralph Vaughan Williams from Crompton Llewellyn Davies 19220227 27 Feb 1922
VWL3817 Letter from William S. Hanham to Sir Alexander Kaye Butterworth 19350829 29th August 1935.
VWL1196 Letter from William H. Reed to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19340503 3/5/34
VWL1238 Letter from William H. Reed to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19340503 3/5/34
VWL191 Letter from William Barclay Squire to F.W. Evans 19050302 2 March 1905
VWL785 Letter from Walter Damrosch to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19350919 September 19, 1935.
VWL507 Letter from Vally Lasker to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19230308 March 8th 23
VWL3272 Letter from Urusla Vaughan Williams to Michael and Eslyn Kennedy 19580727 July 27th 1958
VWL2340 Letter from Ursula Wood to Ralph Vaughan Williams 195104-- [mid April 1951]
VWL2848 Letter from Ursula Wood to Ralph Vaughan Williams 19481026 Tuesday [26 October 1948]
VWL1782 Letter from Ursula Wood to Ralph Vaughan Williams 194710-- [October 1947]
VWL1796 Letter from Ursula Wood to Joy Finzi 19430802 2.8.43

You have never lost your invention but it has not developed enough.  Your best – your most original and beautiful style or ‘atmosphere’ is an indescribable sort of feeling as if one was listening to very lovely lyrical poetry.

GUSTAV HOLST letter to RVW 1903

He was one of the most 'complete' men I have ever known. He loved life, he loved work and his interest in all music was unquenchable and insatiable.


I was thunderstruck by the symphony last night - and hadn't expected to be. Jagged, pulsating and angry, from that very first clanging dissonance - how can it have come from the same source as the Tallis Fantasia?

AUDIENCE MEMBER, Newbury Festival