Thomas Blackburn was a haunted and difficult man. His childhood was tormented by an obsessive father (an Anglican priest of Mauritian descent) who scoured his face with peroxide to lighten his skin colour, and an overaffectionate mother. The moral and sexual uncertainties of this period were to form the core of his later poetry and prose. Influenced by Yeats, his work in the Fifties and Sixties dramatized the conflict between faith and sexuality, drawing on myth, Christian imagery and Jungian tropes, he produced a spare and challenging body of work. Although his life was interrupted by bouts of alcoholism and ill health, he continued writing through the early Seventies, his work becoming more intimate and confessional. He was an influential teacher and friend of many artists in London during the 1950s and 1960s, his daughter recalling a scene in which her father, wearing a white linen suite, danced cheek to cheek with a black leather-clad Francis Bacon.