Lament for Lady Waltonmain
Susana, widow of the composer William Walton, has died in the garden shrine she created in his memory at La Mortella, on the island of Ischia. She was 83.
Walton was twice her age when they met a press conference in Buenos Aires in 1948 and their marriage was neither equal nor easy. In her memoir, Behind the Facade, Susana relates that he introduced her to all his past mistresses when they reached London and forced her to have an abortion when she fell pregnant.
The act, illegal at the time, was performed furtively. She haemmorhaged and could have died, but never mentioned the episode again to her husband for fear it might distress him.
Composers’ wives are a special breed, the more so when they enter widowhood. Susana, after Walton’s death in 1983, garlanded his legacy in flowers.