`Talking much is a sign of vanity, for the man who is lavish with words is cheap in deeds.' Sir Walter Ralegh Sir Walter Ralegh was a writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy and explorer. He lived more lives than most in his own time, in any time. We do not even know when this fifth son of a Devonshire gentleman was born, yet he went on to `climb full high' in the England of Queen Elizabeth I. How was such a man able to do this? His life was romantic, irresistible and of central importance to early modern history. Prone to periods of extreme melancholy alternating with extreme activity, here was a liar who believed his own lies. He had a hunger for life, a longing for death, a passion for words ... and a love of silk stockings. Always driven, and always consumed with wonder, Ralegh was a man who pored over maps, asking dangerous questions of the world around him. His death is a convoluted and contested tale of bargaining, failure and betrayal. Through the Elizabethan golden age and Ralegh's famous adventures to the final act, Anna Beer presents his stranger-than-fiction life in all its richness.