The Chronology page collects anything about Delia with a date, in order.
“Radio had a very big influence over me. It was so important during the Second World War. Life was really very basic at that time and radio provided an essential escape and a greatly valued education.”
After the worst blitz I was shifted to Preston, where my parents came from. It's only today that I've realised that the sound of clogs on cobbles must have been such a big influence on me - that percussive sound of all the mill workers going to work at six o'clock in the morning.
14 November 1940: Coventry's largest and most destructive bombing raid starts in the evening.
8th/9th and 10th/11th April 1941: Coventry's second major air raid takes place on two nights apart.
3rd August 1942: The final air raid falls on Coventry.
1948: Delia starts at Barrs Hill School.
“At school I wasn't allowed to study music. I studied mathematics, theoretical mechanics and physics. The most exciting part of physics was acoustics, although unfortunately my teacher didn't share my enthusiasm! So I was forced to teach myself. I learnt about acoustics and indulged my passion for music away from school.”
1950: "At the age of thirteen she was an accomplished pianist, and played our piano faultlessly in spite of my picking out all the complicated bits I could find on the sheet music available."
8th May 1953: Delia writes the English essay Wireless Programmes, deploring the dumbing down of BBC programmes caused by them moving away from music and towards variety.
1953-54: Delia wins many piano competitions.
1956: Delia leaves Barrs Hill School and goes to to Girton College, Cambridge.
“I won a scholarship to Cambridge reading mathematics. That was a strange year, one third of my fellow students gave the course up and so I was given the opportunity of changing to another subject. Well I wanted to do music; to me that was a forbidden paradise. They eventually realised that I had a natural instinct for music and allowed me to enter the course.”
1957: Delia switches her degree from Mathematics to Music.
“There were only a few women at the University at that time and so we were treated terribly. But I had the solace of my music. The musicians hated acoustics and the theory of sound, but when we studied that I was in my element. I found myself drifting away from the syllabus to learn about mediaeval and modern music. That didn't go down too well with my tutors. They wanted me to study the period 1650 to 1900, but it bored me. So I didn't do too well there!”
December 1958: During her final year at Girton College, Delia meets Graham Harris for the last time while doing Christmas holiday work at the Post Office and they go to a dance. "She was a really nice girl, but changed after she went to Cambridge." "We were two different people inhabiting different planets, and a wide gulf had grown between us."
1959: Delia graduates with an MA in Mathematics Part 1 and Music Part 1.
“After my degree I went to the careers office. I said I was interested in sound, music and acoustics, to which they recommended a career in either deaf aids or depth sounding. So I applied for a job at Decca Records. The boss was at Lords watching cricket the day I had my appointment, but his deputy told me they didn't employ women in the recording studio.”
“[After I graduated, I] went straight abroad with the Pembroke University Players doing sound effects for Julius Caesar. I had such fun, I just didn't want to come back to England!”
June-September 1959: Delia starts working as a tutor in music and mathematics in Geneva for the British Consul-General and others.
September-December 1959: Delia starts working at the International Telecommunications Union, United Nations, Geneva, as Assistant to Gerald G. Gross, the Head of Plenipotentiary and General Administrative Radio Conferences, where she works for two years, all the time bombarding the B.B.C. with applications for a job. [this "two years" conflicts with Clive Blackburn's biography].
January-April 1960: Delia returns to Coventry and starts teaching general subjects in a primary school.
May-October 1960: Delia works at Boosey & Hawkes music publishers, London as Assistant in the Promotion Dept dealing with advertising and publicity material.
November 1960: Delia joins the BBC as a Programme Operations Assistant.
“There was a programme called Record Review, and they just played tiny extracts from records. And one of the music critics would say, “Look, it's on this side of the LP. I don't know where it is, but it's where the trombones come in.” And I'd just hold it up to the light and see the trombones and put the needle down exactly where it was. And they thought it was magic.”
In 1961, Delia becomes a Studio Manager at the BBC.
“Eventually the BBC wrote to me and I went along for an interview. I impressed the interviewers and eventually became a studio manager.”
“It was very exciting, especially on the music shows. All the records had to be spun in by hand and split second timing was essential. When tapes came in I used to mark them with yellow markers to ensure that one followed another and that there were no embarrassing gaps in between.”
In 1961 or 1962, Delia takes up the double bass and takes lessons in Covent Garden once a week.
2nd April 1962: Enid Law, Membership Officer of the British Film Institute, replies to Delia's letter of the 23rd, returning her membership card endorsed for free associate membership.
April 1962: Delia starts a three-month attachment to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which is to last 11 years.
“I was really happy as a studio manager until I realised that I could move to the Workshop and before I had even finished asking my boss for a transfer, he had his hand on the telephone. It turned out that I was the first person who had actually asked to go there. Previously people had been sent, usually unwillingly, for a six month attachment. I was allowed to stay longer and became the most junior person there, even though I was the most highly qualified.
I joined in 1962 and the first thing that I did was to go off and tour around our European colleagues' studios like the ORTF [Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française at Radio France] to see how they worked. I was so brave - just marching in like that!
It wasn't long until I returned and began work on Doctor Who. I had only done one other television programme before that called Time On Our Hands, using beautiful abstract electronic sounds.”
“The Doctor Who music was the only time in my whole career that I realised someone else's score for television. Thereafter I did my own scores for hundreds of television and radio programmes.”
July 1962: Delia writes the score for Science Serves the Arts.
10 August 1962: Delia submits a BBC stores requisition form for Dartington Hall.
25 August 1962: At 10.00 am a BBC van calls at Dartington Hall to recover the BBC equipment.
26th July 1963: Delia writes a memo mentioning her works Doctor Who (pending), RNR (to sort), Music to Midnight (outstanding), Anamorphosis and Gravel as well as preparation for the album Movement, Mime and Music III.
In 1964, Delia is interviewed for the BBC radio programme Information Please to answer the question "How is electronic music produced?"
5 Jan 1964: The Dreams is broadcast for the first time.
15 February 1964: The article Radiophonic `Scores' is published
17 May 1964: Anger of Achilles is broadcast for the first time.
16 November 1964: Amor Dei is broadcast for the first time.
5 December 1964: Amor Dei is repeated.
1965: Delia records two sequences of video for the BBC TV science programme "Tomorrow's World", explaining and demonstrating her techniques.
1965: Delia's father dies.
25th March 1965: The press is invited to the Workshop for a “Day of Radiophonics” and Delia takes part in a group photograph subsequently published in Tatler magazine on 12th May 1965. The Workshop staff consists of Desmond Briscoe (studio manager), John Baker, Delia, Brian Hodgson, Keith Salmon on a 3-month attachment and three engineers David Young, Dick Mills and John Harrison.
March-April 1965: BBC TV crew are shooting footage for French Eyes on the Future.
1st April 1965: The Afterlife is broadcast for the first time.
12th May 1965: The group photograph from the 25th March is published in Tatlers magazine.
10th June 1965: The article Composers without Crochets appears in the Daily Express newspaper.
9th or 15th September 1965: The Evenings of Certain Lives is broadcast for the first time.
10th July 1966: A letter is posted in Hampstead to Delia at the BBCRW, Delaware Road, Maida Vale.
17th August 1966: Delia sends a memo to "A.H.C.P. Ops (S)" asking the BBC's permission to use a section of one of the Inventions for Radio at the Unit Delta Plus Concert of Electronic Music on 10th September.
22nd August 1966: Delia writes to Barry Bermange asking for his consenting letter and suggesting he word it "I personally have no objection to your using part of one of "inventions for radio" as an item in your concert of electronic music at Newbury on September 10th".
23rd August 1966: Barry Bermange replies: "I personally have no objection to your using part of one of the 'inventions for radio' as an item in your concert of electronic music at Newbury on September the Tenth; unfortunately I shall not be able to attend but I wish you every success."
10th September 1966: At 7pm the Unit Delta Plus Concert of Electronic Music takes place at the Watermill Theatre at Bagnor near Newbury, England, including Delia's Amor Dei, Moogies Bloogies and Pot-pourri, and a piece made jointly with Peter Zinovieff, Random Together 1.
In 1967, Delia creates electronic music for the film Work Is A Four Letter Word and with Unit Delta Plus works on Guy Woolfenden's score for Peter Hall's Royal Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth.
28th January 1967: The first Million Volt Light and Sound Rave is held.
4th February 1967: The second Million Volt Light and Sound Rave is held.
5th February 1967: A New View of Politics is broadcast at 9.30pm on BBC2.
March 1967: Delia scores Happy Birthday.
14th-30th April 1967: Delia's music is played at the Brighton Festival.
27th April 1967: Mrs. H. Rapp of the BBC writes to Delia, apologising for having played Delia's music at the wrong speed.
In 1968, Delia gave a lecture with Brian Hodgson at Morley College, London, at which she first met David Vorhaus, which was a turning point in her life. A week later, the three founded Kaleidophon.
15th January 1968: A concert of electronic music is given at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which opens with Delia's piece Pot-pourri, followed by pieces by Peter Zinovieff, Tristram Cary and others. Delia can be seen on film starting the computer that plays Zinovieff's Partita for Unattended Computer.
16th January 1968: Albert Chatterly writes to Delia: “Congratulations on your (far too) tiny bit at the Q.E. Hall last night. I agreed with the "Times" that you certainly produced gorgeous sounds.”
10th April 1968: King Lear has its press night.
30th April 1968: Happy Birthday is broadcast on the Pete Brady Show at 2.00p.m. on BBC Radio 1.
19th August - 6th September 1968: Delia is working on "Dreaming"[?].
27th August 1968: I Think in Shapes is broadcast for the first time.
September 1968: Delia checks out the tape for Anything Goes.
9th-20th September 1968: Delia is working on "Who (gallery)"[?].
25th September 1968: Delia is working on "Dreaming"[?].
30th September-11th November 1968: Delia is working on "Who & Heaven"[?].
5th December 1968: The Radiophonic Workshop celebrates its 10th anniversary with a party for all staff.
16th February 1969: Delia writes to Brian about plumbing and says that she and David are “working each night flat out on our record”.
24th May 1969: Delia orders a dark blue four-piece 'George Hayman' drumkit for Kaleidophon from Dallas Arbiter Ltd. of London for about £130.
26th August 1970: Delia replies to a letter and signs as "Organiser, Radiophonic Workshop (Acting)".
3rd September 1970: Kirsten Cubitt's article Dial a tune appears in The Guardian newspaper and says that Delia is ‘monitoring’ the Workshop while Desmond Briscoe is on “extended leave” and that the BBC “has allowed her to build up her own studio with Brian Hodgson in Camden Town as Kaleidophon.”
6th December 1970: Delia's 1970 Macbeth is broadcast on Irish radio station RTÉ based in Dublin. "We were going to [go] over and have a great party. The Bankers Strike was on at the time and nobody could get any money out of Ireland for months. It took nearly a year to get paid... we never got (to Dublin) in the end”.
18th February 1971: Macbeth opens at the Greenwich Theatre with Delia and Brian's sound.
2nd April 1972: The first episode of Tutankhamun's Egypt is broadcast.
18th May 1972: Jeffery Boswall writes to Delia saying he is looking forward to meeting her 2pm Monday [the 22nd] to talk about Wildlife Safari to Argentina, show her the film, provide her with some sounds.
May 1972: Delia is given a six-month leave of absence from the BBC “to consider staying on at the BBC.”
22nd June 1972: Delia plans an unidentified piece in 9 movements on the back of Tutankhamun's Egypt cue sheets.
25th August 1972: Delia's music for the Egypt item in Chronicle Magazine: Egypt, Rome and Britain is broadcast.
30th September 1972: Shadow of the Pharoah is broadcast.
In 1973, Delia left the BBC.
“something serious happened around '72, '73, '74. The world went out of tune with itself and the BBC went out of tune with itself.”
“I still haven't worked out why I left - self preservation, I think.”
“I eventually left [because] I didn't want to compromise my integrity any further. I was fed up having my stuff turned down [by the BBC] because it was too sophisticated, and yet it was lapped up when I played it to anyone outside the BBC. The BBC was very wary, increasingly being run by committees and accountants, and they seemed to be dead scared of anything that was a bit unusual”
From this moment on, at least until 1995, "nobody spoke of Derbyshire at the Radiophonic workshop. She was never mentioned."
Delia and Brian Hodgson both leave the BBC to set up their own musical studio Electrophon. but she soon quits and moves to Cumbria to work as a radio operator during the laying of a gas pipeline, then working and living with Li Yuan-chia at his Cumbrian home and art gallery, and living a private life.
“The idea was that we were going to leave together and set up Electrophon,... she started dragging her heels about leaving. I left [and] blew my pension on setting up Electrophon. And Delia was supposed to come with me... we did “the Legend of Hell House” together, but she was not mentally there much. She'd get enthusiastic for a minute or two and then lose interest. So that was a difficult time. At that point, Delia almost “disappeared”. That then led on to her leaving London and going up north to work on the pipeline”
She applied for the job at Laings “as soon as she saw the word ‘radio’ [in the advertisement]”.
“I was the best radio operator Laing Pipelines ever had! I answered a job in the paper for a French speaking radio operator. I just had to sleep - everything was out of tune, so I went to the north of Cumbria. It was twelve miles south of the border. I had a lovely house built from stones from Hadrian's Wall. I was in charge of three transmitters in a disused quarry [delivering the weather forecast in French every night]. I did not want to get involved in a big organisation again. I'd fled the BBC and I thought - oh, Laing's... a local family firm! Then I found this huge consortium between Laing's and these two French companies.”
‘She told me she did it to make her socially acceptable. The women were wary of her on her own and she wanted to join the darts team. 'To her, it was a marriage of convenience. She thought it would be a friendship.
‘But they quickly discovered they weren't compatible and had a huge row. That was the end of that but she never divorced him.’
In 1976, Delia stops working for Laing as a Radio Operator on the laying of a gas pipeline between Scotland and Cumbria.
1st March 1976: Glynis Jones of the BBC writes to Delia about renaming five of her tracks, originally for Travelling in Winter, The Bagman and The Naked Sun, for their inclusion on a library record of sound effects Out Of This World.
January 1980: Delia buys a house in Northampton.
January 1994: Delia's mother dies.
7 February 1997: John Baker dies. Shortly after, Delia goes to visit the companion of his final years, Daphne, at their home on the Isle of Wight and "became obsessed about the fire" that had damaged their home a year of two before.
1997: Delia is diagnosed with breast cancer is later operated on.
“She really enjoyed herself although... she was very nervous and very tearful,... slightly fragile” “...when she got attention at the “Dr. Who” convention, she enjoyed it, after years of neglect”
In 2000 and 2001 she works with Sonic Boom as advisor/co-producer on the EAR LPs Vibrations and Continuum by long nightly phone calls 5 nights a week and visits to Rugby every Weds or Thurs on her 'private train', having realised that some trains went from Rugby to Northampton which were just returning and not scheduled.
Early 2001: Delia is working with Sonic Boom on MESMA (Multi-sensory Electronic Sounds, Music, and Art), an organization with the aim to hold workshops and festivals in order to increase knowledge of electronic music.
Early 2001: Delia starts on a project to investigate the musical possibilities of shapeshifting alloys.
10th June 2001: deliaderbyshire.com exists.
3rd July 2001: Delia dies at Northampton General Hospital of renal failure.
- Clive Blackburn's About Delia
- The 1970 newspaper article Morse code musician
- The Soundhouse interview
- Coventry Blitz on wikipedia.org
- Breege Brennan's thesis
- Delia in the Boazine interview.
- The Boazine interview.
- 7 Inch Cinema's Delia Archive Gallery, photo caption to Notes on Music
- Graham Harris: Delia_Derbyshire:_A_Personal_Tribute.
- Graham Harris, personal email.
- Delia in the Surface interview
- Clive Blackburn's About Delia.
- Dartington Hall
- DD113144: Manuscript for Science and Health.
- DD110042 DD110056
- Special Sound, "day+of+radiophonics" p.110.
- Brian Hodgson, personal communication: "'The Magazine was Tatler, 12th May 1965. The article was by J. Roger Baker and photograph by Richard Swayne. I still have a copy of the magazine."
- DD110122 DD110130
- On The Level.
- The Wednesday Play: Ape and Essence on imdb.com
- DD154505: Unit Delta Plus Concert of Electronic Music programme
- A Game of Chess - listening copy of final tape
- DD091236: An envelope dated 24th Oct 1966.
- DD082729: Draft program for the Brighton Festival, 10th Nov 1966.
- DD082346: Letter from Michael Leonard of Hornsey College of Art confirming the Brighton Festival, Dec 13th 1966.
- Brian Hodgson in the Guardian obituary.
- The Tape Library List's notes to TRW 6604.
- Apologies: Letter from Mrs. H. Rapp of the BBC.
- DD100734: Telegram about Tiger Talks
- Radio Scotland interview
- Brian Hodgson interviewed for Breege Brennan's thesis.
- David Vorhaus in the Sound On Sound article "David Vorhaus", February 2002
- Zinovieff's Red Bull Academy interview
- Work Is A 4-Letter Word on imdb.com
- DD081333: Delia's notes for The Living World dated 30.10.68 "ROUGH MIX / NAKED SUN TAPE".
- Special Sound, p.124.
- Special Sound, p.143
- The Surface interview
- Nicola McCartney cited in Breege Brennan's thesis.
- Brian Hodgson interviewed for Breege Brennan's thesis
- Special Sound, p.113.
- DD135529: Letter from Ewan Hooper to Kaleidophon thanking them for their work on [Macbeth (1971)|Macbeth].
- Special Sound, p.134-5.
- Programme notes to Standing Wave by Nicola McCartney, cited in Breege Brennan's thesis.
- Delia in the Radiophonic Ladies interview.
- Delia in the Surface interview, December 1999.
- Elizabeth Parker's email to Johann Merrich in the audio lecture Le Pioniere della Musica Elettronica on arwiki.org at 20:30.
- Brian Hodgson interviewed for Breege Brennan's thesis.
- John Cavanagh cited in Breege Brennan's thesis
- Delia's Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry.
- The General Register Office for England and Wales' Register of Marriages, Northumberland West 1, Oct-Dec 1974, p.1761. (according to Wikipedia)
- Clive Blackburn in the Mail on Sunday article.
- Comment by user Tagginglaong on 19 Jul 2008: "I worked at Laing Pipelines during 1976 on the radio communications. What has this to do with Delia? Well she had been the previous incumbent of the job and I have to tell you she was mightily respected by all the engineers and crew from Scotland to Cumbria, both French and English. Everyone knew her as the woman who had been in the Radiophonic Workshop and most said she had written the Dr Who theme. I was told she took the job with Laings because she wanted a little space in her life. I can't vouch for her reasons, but I can vouch for how much her workmates thought of her. I'm sorry I never met her, but apparently she was pretty formidable."
- “I managed to get her onto a composer's desktop programme. But she couldn’t cope with it and spent most of the weekend in tears.”: Brian Hodgson interviewed for Breege Brennan's thesis.
- Variations on the Dr Who theme
- The John Baker Biography by Richard Anthony Baker at trunkrecords.com
- Delia in the Surface interview
- Mark Ayres interviewed for Breege Brennan's thesis.
- Brian Hodgson interviewed for Breege Brennan's thesis.
- Sonic Boom, personal communication
- delia-derbyshire.org's News for 4th September 2003: New Delia Derbyshire Collaboration Released
- Andy Kellman's Artist Biography on www.allmusic.com
- Delia's Oxford_Dictionary_of_National_Biography_entry.