Nicholas Marshall was born in Plymouth and read music at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He later studied composition at the Royal College of Music under Anthony Milner, and also studied privately with Sir Lennox Berkeley. He returned to Devon to take up an appointment at Dartington Hall, teaching music at the school, and horn in the College of Arts. His works for children include two operas; other works include vocal, choral, orchestral and chamber music, as well as incidental music for radio plays, etc. He is also active as a conductor and pianist and is currently artistic director of the Budleigh Music Festival in East Devon. Music in the Wood comprises six settings of poems by James Reeves (1909–1978) who is chiefly known for his poetry and his literature for children. Certain themes recur in his poems, such as music, childhood, love and mortality, all of which are evident in these settings, with their varying moods of yearning, nostalgia, uneasiness and passion. Music in the Wood was first performed in Wetzlar, Germany, in May 2000 by Franzisca Stürz and Hans-Günther Kolb. It has since been recorded by the tenor James Gilchrist on the Divine Art label in 2014.