Henry Kenneth Alfred Russell, known as Ken Russell (born July 3 1927) is a controversial British film director, particularly known for his films about famous composers.
He was born in Southampton, and served in both the RAF and the Merchant Navy before taking up the arts and beginning to make his own films. One of his first major successes was a BBC documentary about the life of Edward Elgar, and his TV film about the life of Frederick Delius, as seen through the eyes of Eric Fenby, was also well-received.
His first major feature film was 1969's Women in Love, based on the novel by D. H. Lawrence. More work in a similar vein followed, including The Music Lovers (1970), a biopic of Tchaikovsky which drew attention to his homosexuality, and The Devils, based on Aldous Huxley's book The Devils of Loudun, starring Vanessa Redgrave in a highly controversial role as a nun.
By the 1990s, Russell's work had attracted so much media attention that he was widely regarded as unemployable, and he is now largely reliant on his own finances to continue making films.
He and late ex-wife, Shirley (now deceased), converted to Roman Catholicism together.