Dr. Rachel Owen, an artist, Italian lecturer at Oxford, and the former partner of Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, died on Sunday. According to an obituary from Pembroke College, the cause was cancer. Dr. Owen was 48 years old.
Owen studied Italian and fine art at the University of Exeter before completing a Ph.D. on the illustrations of the early manuscripts of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Her art involved photography and printmaking, while her scholarly work focused on Italian medieval literature. According to Pembroke, Owen continued to teach until recently.
Owen and Yorke announced the dissolution of their relationship in August of 2015. “Rachel and I have separated,” Yorke said in a statement. “After 23 highly creative and happy years, for various reasons we have gone our separate ways. It’s perfectly amicable and has been common knowledge for some time.”
Many listeners interpreted Radiohead’s most recent album, A Moon Shaped Pool, as a reflection on the end of that relationship. Romance is a constant theme on the album. On “Identikit,” Thorke repeats the phrase, “broken hearts make it rain” over and over; “Glass Eyes” ends with the pronouncement, “I feel this love to the core.” And on “True Love Waits,” Yorke declares, “just don’t leave.”
Owen is survived by a son, Noah, aged 15, and a daughter, Agnes, aged 12.