. . . are to be published (ed. John Evans):
The diaries open as the young Benjamin heads to boarding school, “worse luck!”. The Lowestoft-born son of a dentist father and keen amateur musician mother, his early musical talent was prodigious, and his schoolboy diaries are bafflingly thick with accounts of works he is writing alongside reports of tennis games, life in the sickroom, and homework. From 1930-32 he is a student at the Royal College of Music, and then come early successes such as performances of his Op 1, the Sinfonietta, and Journeying Boy. In 1934 his father dies; in 1935 he gets a job at the GPO Film Unit, through which he meets WH Auden, working with him on projects such as Night Mail, and becomes part of a metropolitan artistic circle. His political awareness also develops, particularly in the wake of the Spanish Civil War. In 1937 his mother dies unexpectedly, causing Britten repeatedly and poignantly to express his grief. In 1938 the diaries break off suddenly, perhaps because of Britten’s relationship with a 17-year-old; the following year, he and Peter Pears set off for the US, where they fall in love.