Born in 1894 to a well-off military family, Gerard Brenan was expected to follow the family tradition. But at Radley school he discovered a love of books and an urge to break the mould, which led him to abscond to Europe for six months. After the First World War he went to Spain, where he found the inspiration for his life's work (and began an affair with Dora Carrington). Come the 1930s his life changed again, with marriage and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, which inspired his masterpiece The Spanish Labyrinth (1943). Drawing on long personal acquaintance as well as a wealth of unpublished correspondence, Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy looks unflinchingly at the whole of this remarkable man of letters - from his venturesome spirit to his troublesome sexuality to his literary accomplishment. "By no means unworthy to stand beside P. N. Furbank's Forster, Michael Holroyd's Strachey or Quentin Bell's Woolf...Affectionate but acerbic, learned but witty, elegant but relaxed, [Gathorne-Hardy] entertains as consistently as he informs". (Independent on Sunday).