From The Guardian, April 4, 2003: The name of Zygmunt Bauman prompts awe amongst fellow sociologists. "Late flowering" is the phrase which frequently crops up to describe his extraordinarily prolific output since his retirement from Leeds University in 1990. Book has followed book, almost annually, almost all of them breaking new ground and drawing admiration for their reflections on a vast range of questions from intimacy to globalisation, from the Holocaust to reality television. Bauman is now counted as one of the most influential sociologists working in Europe. He's in international demand as a lecturer, and frequently spends several months travelling in Russia, eastern Europe, China, Germany (where he is particularly fêted) and France. He was born in the provincial town of Posnan in west Poland to a family of very modest means. As a poor Jew, he struggled to get an education. In 1939, the family fled the German invasion into Soviet Russia, where Bauman joined the Red Army. After the war, Bauman returned to Warsaw as an officer, a position which gave him a decent flat and access to a university education. He met his future wife Janina in a lecture theatre at Warsaw University and married her in 1948 after a whirlwind courtship. They had three daughters. In 1968, after 20 years as an academic, an anti-Semitic purge of Warsaw University forced the couple and a number of other leading Jewish intellectuals into exile in Israel, leaving close relatives and friends behind. Israel did not prove congenial for the Baumans despite the fact that their eldest daughter had settled there with her husband, and they left after only three years for Leeds. They arrived with little knowledge of Britain, and none of Leeds, but have lived in the same roomy 1930s house surrounded by an overgrown garden next to a busy main road ever since.