It's easy to remember Richard Burton as the hard-living, hard-drinking, tough-talking jet setter who was married twice to Elizabeth Taylor. After all, their lifestyle of opulence, excess and passion made great headlines.

And there is no denying he was one of the greatest actors of our time - with those blue-green eyes and inimitable voice he commanded attention onstage to the exclusion of all others. What's hard to imagine is Richard Burton as writer, father, would-be Oxford don, a voracious reader who was never without a shopping bag full of books - and he was all of those things and more.Melvyn Bragg gives us a telling portrait of a complex man, a portrait drawn in acute detail by the inclusion of Burton's "Notebooks," the diary begun in 1966 as a first step in writing his autobiography.

We can disdain, decry and even dismiss Burton the man with regard to the headlines. However, as he said repeatedly, "I go my own way." With regard to what he delivered on stage and in film, we should be grateful he did.