John Betjeman (1906-1984) was not simply one of the best-loved contemporary English poets but was also one of the best-loved Englishmen of the twentieth century. He was never, nor strove to be, the darling of intellectuals or academics, but became the darling of the ordinary man in the street.
Betjeman was a prolific letter writer all his life, and his correspondents ranged from people in the world of literature and the arts T. S. Eliot, Cyril Connoly, Evelyn Waugh, Auberon Waugh, John Piper, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis, to family and cherished friends Alan Pryce-Jones, Myfanwy Piper, Nancy Mitford, Osbert Lancaster and later Mary Wilson. He wrote eloquently and passionately on poetry, religion, architecture and town planning and letters to his family recorded his adventures in America and Australia. His letters are at once serious, comforting, and sparkling with humour.
Volume One (1926 1951) covers Betjemans life from his university days through to his period on the staff of The Architectural Review, as editor of the Shell Guides in the 1930s, and as Press Attaché in Dublin during the War. It reveals his activities as a broadcaster on radio and television and as a public speaker, which established him as an authority and enthusiast in a wide range of fields - literary, artistic, architectural.