W. H. Auden

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W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden
BirthplaceYork, England
NationalityBritish from birth; American from 1946
EducationM.A. English language and literature

Auden, W. H.

(Wystan Hugh Auden) (ô`dən), 1907–73, Anglo-American poet, b. York, England, educated at Oxford. A versatile, vigorous, and technically skilled poet, Auden ranks among the major literary figures of the 20th cent. Often written in everyday language, his poetry ranges in subject matter from politics to modern psychology to Christianity. During the 1930s he was the leader of a left-wing literary group that included Christopher IsherwoodIsherwood, Christopher
, 1904–86, British-American author. After the appearance of his first novel, All the Conspirators (1928), Isherwood went to Germany. The four years he spent there furnished him with the material for what are probably his best novels,
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 and Stephen SpenderSpender, Sir Stephen,
1909–95, English poet and critic, b. London. His early poetry—like that of W. H. Auden, C. Day Lewis, and Louis MacNeice, with whom he became associated at Oxford—was inspired by social protest.
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. With Isherwood he wrote three verse plays, The Dog beneath the Skin (1935), The Ascent of F6 (1936), and On the Frontier (1938), and Journey to a War (1939), a record of their experiences in China. He lived in Germany during the early days of Nazism, and was a stretcher-bearer for the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War.

Auden's first volume of poetry appeared in 1930. Later volumes include Spain (1937), New Year Letter (1941), For the Time Being, a Christmas Oratorio (1945), The Age of Anxiety (1947; Pulitzer Prize), Nones (1951), The Shield of Achilles (1955), Homage to Clio (1960), About the House (1965), Epistle of a Godson and Other Poems (1972), and Thank You, Fog (1974). His other works include Letters from Iceland (with Louis MacNeiceMacNeice, Louis
, 1907–63, Irish poet b. Belfast. Educated at Oxford, he became a classical scholar and teacher and later was a producer and traveled the world for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
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, 1937); the libretto, with his companion Chester Kallman, for StravinskyStravinsky, Igor Fedorovich
, 1882–1971, Russian-American composer. Considered by many the greatest and most versatile composer of the 20th cent., Stravinsky helped to revolutionize modern music.

Stravinsky's father, an actor and singer in St.
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's opera The Rake's Progress (1953); A Certain World: A Commonplace Book (1970); and The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays (1968).

In 1939, Auden moved to the United States, he became a citizen in 1946, and beginning that year taught at a number of American colleges and universities. From 1956 to 1961 he was professor of poetry at Oxford. Subsequently he lived in a number of countries, including Italy and Austria, and in 1971 he returned to England. He was awarded the National Medal for Literature in 1967.


See his Collected Poetry (1945), Collected Shorter Poems, 1927–1957 (1967), and Collected Longer Poems (1969); E. Mendelson, ed., The Complete Works of W. H. Auden (8 vol., 1997–); biographies by C. Osborne (1979, repr. 1995), H. Carpenter (1981), E. Mendelson (2 vol., 1981–99), and R. Davenport-Hines (1996) and Auden in Love (1984) by D. Farnan; studies by S. Hynes (1977, repr. 1982) and E. Callan (1983).

Auden, W. H. (Wystan Hugh)

(1907–73) poet, writer; born in York, England. He studied at Oxford (1925–28), taught, traveled extensively, wrote several plays, and emigrated to New York City (1939), becoming a U.S. citizen in 1946. He taught at many institutions, was an editor for literary periodicals, and is known as a humanist poet, as in Homage to Clio (1960). In the 1930s he collaborated with Christopher Isherwood on verse plays, and he later wrote the libretto for Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress (1951). One of the most respected men of letters of his time, he returned to England in 1972.
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