Donald Meltzer was one of the most influential London Kleinians and a renowned international teacher, though also a controversial one. His books are all clinically based and all original in their interpretation or extension of post-Kleinian theory. Meltzer was born in New York and studied medicine at Yale. After practising as a psychiatrist specialising in children and families, he moved to England in 1953 to have analysis with Melanie Klein; he described this as ‘a wild ride’. Meltzer’s definition of psychoanalysis was ‘working with the transference’, whether under the banner of psychoanalysis or of psychotherapy, or indeed it could take place in other situations. He admired craftsmanship in all fields, the marriage of intellectual problem-solving with practical skill. His longstanding and well-informed interest in the philosophy of language and aesthetics illuminated for him the aesthetic nature of the psychoanalytic method and of the struggle for mental health.