(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/13.)

When Philip Ridley was a child he suffered from severe asthma. When he wasn’t in the hospital, he was often kept at home. Alone in his bedroom, in a tower block in London’s East End, he would draw pictures and write stories, make up poems and sing songs. He would disappear into a world of his own making.

“I was a very odd kid,” he said, speaking by telephone from the London neighborhood of Ilford, where he recently moved. “I was extremely pale. I was extremely thin. I had this shock of bright red hair.”

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