This autobiography of the English poet and mystery writer (Nicholas Blake) is a thing apart for, with deep sensitivity, he records a childhood, youth and maturity vividly and creatively. Born of an Anglo-Irish marriage, early motherless, his father, a curate of the Church of Ireland, Cecil was raised by a devoted aunt and knew a tender relationship with his father but as he grew up there was the ""long acrimony of adolescence"" and his sense of difference, inadequacy and inferiority along with his father's demands doomed their intimacy. With school and Oxford, with widening intellectual horizons, he replaced solitude with friends, with love for Mary King, with the ""idea of a Poet"", changing and posing in his restlessness. Schoolmastering for eight years and, with the thirties, a romantic flirtation with Communism. His marriage to Mary and his two children brought a respite from his previous self-questioning while the acceptance of his poems (with ""Nicholas Blake"" earning enough money for them) brought the assurance of achievement. This closes with the early years of the war and his country living -- there must be more to come for the candor and sympathy here, the limning of scenes and people, the knowledge of self and the expression of the creative temper and development, the feeling for the atmosphere of unsettled youth, form a part -- and not the whole -- of the man. For that market that wants the best in biography.