From his childhood days in the depressed valleys of south Wales, Lewis felt he had a vocation to be a writer. Pikoulis traces Lewis's development from the remarkable schoolboy stories written as an unhappy boarder, through his university education at Aberystwyth and Manchester to his return to the valleys as a teacher.
His extended treatment of Lewis's military service, especially in India and Burma (where he was to die aged twenty-eight), reflects his standing as a war writer.
Lewis's poems and stories, authentic and moving, were popular with both readers and critics, catching the tone of the 'phoney war' years and later the disturbing but exciting experience of his war in India. His vivid letters home, which have been compared to Keats's letters, capture both the atmosphere of war and the essence of Lewis's character, and Pikoulis draws on them, and on contemporary photographs, to portray a fascinating man and writer.
Dr. John Pikoulis is a lecturer in the Department of Continuing Studies at Cardiff University. His other books include a critical study of William Faulkner.