When Nick Hern, who initially commissioned the book, and I went to see the much-admired American publisher Aaron Asher, I told him I wanted to write it in three volumes. The first, I said, would end with Citizen Kane (1941), the second with Chimes at Midnight (1965), and the third, dealing with his unfulfilled last two decades, would be a novel. The great man looked at me pityingly. “If you are very lucky,” he said, “you will be allowed to write the book in two volumes – neither of which will be a novel.” Then he pointed to Michael Holroyd’s Bernard Shaw: first volume bestseller; second volume very successful; third volume poor sales; fourth volume remaindered almost the moment it appeared. I accepted his wisdom and set to: volume one up to Kane; volume two the rest. That was the summer of 1989. Welles had only been dead four years, I had just turned 40.