John Betjeman was the best-loved English poet since Tennyson and became an institution - a 'teddy bear to the nation'.
This biography takes the reader from Betjeman's troubled childhood in north London, through his blossoming at Oxford; a gay fling with W. H. Auden; a clandestine marriage to a field marshal's daughter; pranks as a film critic; wartime service and probable espionage in Ireland, to the glory days of his later years when his Collected Poems became a runaway bestseller. This book is a distillation of Bevis Hillier's three-volume biography, authorized by Betjeman himself.
[Hillier] has unearthed a wealth of detail and anecdote. - Glasgow Herald
Hillier's enthralling, many-voiced biography is an awesome achievement. But it is no more than Betjeman's due - John Carey, Sunday Times
Fascinating - Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times
Sharply perceptive ... compelling ... A biography this good abolishes time in its own way, and triumphantly ensures Betjeman's survival - Peter Conrad, Observer
A mosaic in which the true face of the man and his times is revealed - Mail on Sunday
The chubbiest, juiciest book of the year' - Barry Humphries, Daily Telegraph
Strikes just the right note. - Telegraph
An awe-inspiring piece of scholarship ... Betjeman has had the best and most sympathetic biographer he could have wished for - Artemis Cooper, Evening Standard