Raymond Henry Williams was born in the small Welsh village of Pandy in 1921, the son of a railway signalman. He won a scholarship to Cambridge in 1939 where he was active in the student branch of the Communist Party and the Cambridge University Socialist Club. He was called up in 1941 and fought as a tank commander in a number of the most bloody battles of the Second World War, returning to Cambridge in 1946 to complete his degree in English with a powerful dissertation on Ibsen in which some of his own sense of vocational crisis came through. For the next fourteen years, Williams worked as a tutor in adult education.3 This move, and the consequent departure from the usual university syllabus of English studies, provided some of the ground for the writing of two seminal works which challenged the existing paradigm of literary studies, and did much to help the emergence of the new disciplines of cultural studies. Culture and Society 1780-1950 (1958) and The Long Revolution (1961) established his reputation as the leading thinker of the New Left; in the words of the historian Edward Thompson, 'our best man,.4