Benjamin Britten (1913-76) was one of the greatest English composers of his time, and the first of his generation to enjoy a wide international reputation. With the great success of Peter Grimes (1945) he effectively reinvented English opera and was a pioneer of music for film and radio. For much of his life, however, British critics dismissed his music as merely ‘clever’. Nor was his private life free from malicious gossip, yet his sexuality and his political and social convictions directly or indirectly inspired much of his art. In this masterly biography the author creates a portrait of a great artist and discusses the contradictions of his quintessential Englishness and his world stature, his outsider status and his membership of the establishment, his artistic adventurousness and his constant regard for musical forms and traditions.