Ruth Padel is an award-winning British poet, author and conservationist. She has published twelve poetry collections, seven works of non-fiction and a wildlife novel. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor of Poetry at King’s College London. Her latest book is Beethoven Variations – Poems on a Life.


OUT NOW | Beethoven Variations, Poems on a Life


In 2020, Ruth Padel presents a major new work. Beethoven Variations, published in the 250th year of Beethoven’s birth, is a bold and passionate adventure in poetry and biography, a journey into the essence of creativity and its power to overcome suffering, and an intimate exploration of one of the most creative artists who ever lived.

The beautiful and illuminating poems, on Beethoven’s childhood, young manhood, and anguished old age, draw on Beethoven’s diaries, letters and memoirs. They are followed by an elegant and succinct prose biography.

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Selected praise for Beethoven Variations

‘Poetry, biography, music and memoir collide in this wonderful collection. A deeply personal and lyrical journey through the composer’s life and a tender and evocative portrait of the man and his music – and the profound ways it affects listeners and performers.’ – Tatler, Best Books 2020.

‘What a wonderful and unusual idea, to write a biography of Beethoven, interlaced with fragments of autobiography, in poetry. Ruth Padel writes with true passion; her love for, and understanding of, the man and his music shine through each poem.’ – Steven Isserlis, cellist

‘Beethoven’s music encompasses the entire blinding spectrum of human thought and emotion. Ruth Padel’s poems capture that uncontainable spirit to an astounding degree.’ – Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker

‘Generous, painful, tender, gorgeously lyrical. With precision, heart-breaking beauty and lyric insight, Ruth Padel performs a miracle: Beethoven comes alive before us.’ – Poet Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic


Ruth Padel | Selected listening

Ruth, Raymond Antrobus and Anthony Anaxagorou on the London Review Bookshop Podcast

Ruth on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs, including Beethoven’s string quartet, Opus 132

For media and event enquiries please contact Daniel Kramb at FMcM Associates: [email protected], 020 7405 7422.

Beethoven Variations | Events

12 February
London Review Bookshop | Beethoven – The Poets’ Take, with Ruth Padel, Raymond Antrobus and Anthony Anaxagorou (pictured left)

3 March
Daunt Marylebone | An evening with Ruth Padel, celebrating Beethoven Variations. With very special guests

26 March
Guilford Festival

1 May
Cambridge University

16 May
Nottingham Poetry Festival

July
Buxton Literary Festival

August
Edinburgh Festival

October
The Hostry Festival


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