The son of a Yorkshire miner with strong left-wing sympathies, Brian Blessed was born in 1936 and grew up in the mining village of Goldthorpe. As well as roaming the railway tracks and the countryside as leader of a gang of small boys, he met Picasso, Paul Robeson and George VI, and disappeared from home to cycle 11 miles to see the famous boxer, Bruce Woodcock. The idyll evaporated when Blessed was forced to leave school long before his friends, as his family could not afford to keep him there. Unhappy and solitary, he worked for an undertaker and then as a plasterer, and joined the Theatre Guild at Mexborough Schofield Technical School. After suffering a nervous breakdown at 18 and recovering with the help of his speech teacher, he began his career as an actor. This is his first volume of autobiography, providing an evocation of wartime childhood in rural England.