W. H. Auden

About W. H. Auden

Who is it?: Poet
Birth Day: February 21, 1907
Birth Place: York, British
Residence: York, Birmingham, Oxford (UK); Berlin (Germany); Helensburgh, Colwall, London (UK); New York, Ann Arbor, Swarthmore (US); Ischia (Italy); Kirchstetten (Austria); Oxford (UK)
Citizenship: British from birth, American from 1946
Education: M.A. English language and literature
Alma mater: Christ Church, Oxford
Occupation: Poet
Spouse(s): Erika Mann (unconsummated marriage, 1935, to provide her with a British passport)
Relatives: George Augustus Auden (father) Constance Rosalie Bicknell Auden (mother) John Bicknell Auden (brother)

W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden was born on February 21, 1907 in York, British, is Poet. Wystan Hugh Auden was an Anglo-American poet considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. He aspired to become a mining engineer till his early teens but soon realized his passion for words and understood that poetry was his calling. In 1928 a friend hand-printed his collection titled ‘Poems’, but it wasn’t until 1930 when another collection, also titled ‘Poems’, with different content was published, that Auden was established as the leading voice of a new generation. His father was a physician and his mother was a strict and devout Anglican, and their collaborative teachings are reflected in Auden’s poems in varying degrees. His poems were penned in almost all imaginable forms of verse with his technical virtuosity being the highlight. He based his poems on popular culture, vernacular speeches and current events with his vast knowledge of a variety of literatures, art forms, social and political theories, and scientific and technical information serving as the inspiration and base. Several of his books and poems were written after his visits to countries torn by political strife. It is said that from the 1930s he became more of a left-wing political poet, but close scrutiny of his works suggests that it was equivocal and appealed to the goodness residing in the heart of every human being
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Does W. H. Auden Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, W. H. Auden has been died on 29 September 1973(1973-09-29) (aged 66)\nVienna, Austria.

🎂 W. H. Auden - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When W. H. Auden die, W. H. Auden was 66 years old.

Popular As W. H. Auden
Occupation Writers
Age 66 years old
Zodiac Sign Pisces
Born February 21, 1907 (York, British)
Birthday February 21
Town/City York, British
Nationality British

🌙 Zodiac

W. H. Auden’s zodiac sign is Pisces. According to astrologers, Pisces are very friendly, so they often find themselves in a company of very different people. Pisces are selfless, they are always willing to help others, without hoping to get anything back. Pisces is a Water sign and as such this zodiac sign is characterized by empathy and expressed emotional capacity.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

W. H. Auden was born in the Year of the Goat. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Goat enjoy being alone in their thoughts. They’re creative, thinkers, wanderers, unorganized, high-strung and insecure, and can be anxiety-ridden. They need lots of love, support and reassurance. Appearance is important too. Compatible with Pig or Rabbit.

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Auden was born in York, England, to George Augustus Auden (1872–1957), a physician, and Constance Rosalie Auden (née Bicknell; 1869–1941), who had trained (but never served) as a missionary nurse. He was the third of three sons; the eldest, George Bernard Auden (1900–1978), became a farmer, while the second, John Bicknell Auden (1903–1991), became a Geologist.


In 1908 his family moved to Homer Road, Solihull, near Birmingham, where his father had been appointed the School Medical Officer and Lecturer (later Professor) of Public Health. Auden's lifelong psychoanalytic interests began in his father's library. From the age of eight he attended boarding schools, returning home for holidays. His visits to the Pennine landscape and its declining lead-mining industry figure in many of his poems; the remote decaying mining village of Rookhope was for him a "sacred landscape", evoked in a late poem, "Amor Loci". Until he was fifteen he expected to become a mining Engineer, but his passion for words had already begun. He wrote later: "words so excite me that a pornographic story, for Example, excites me sexually more than a living person can do."


Auden began writing poems at thirteen, mostly in the styles of 19th-century romantic poets, especially Wordsworth, and later poets with rural interests, especially Thomas Hardy. At eighteen he discovered T. S. Eliot and adopted an extreme version of Eliot's style. He found his own voice at twenty when he wrote the first poem later included in his collected work, "From the very first coming down". This and other poems of the late 1920s tended to be in a clipped, elusive style that alluded to, but did not directly state, their themes of loneliness and loss. Twenty of these poems appeared in his first book Poems (1928), a pamphlet hand-printed by Stephen Spender.


Auden attended St Edmund's School, Hindhead, Surrey, where he met Christopher Isherwood, later famous in his own right as a Novelist. At thirteen he went to Gresham's School in Norfolk; there, in 1922, when his friend Robert Medley asked him if he wrote poetry, Auden first realised his vocation was to be a poet. Soon after, he "discover(ed) that he (had) lost his faith" (through a gradual realisation that he had lost interest in religion, not through any decisive change of views). In school productions of Shakespeare, he played Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew in 1922, and Caliban in The Tempest in 1925, his last year at Gresham's. His first published poems appeared in the school magazine in 1923. Auden later wrote a chapter on Gresham's for Graham Greene's The Old School: Essays by Divers Hands (1934).


Auden was reintroduced to Christopher Isherwood in 1925 by his fellow student A. S. T. Fisher. For the next few years Auden sent poems to Isherwood for comments and criticism; the two maintained a sexual friendship in intervals between their relations with others. In 1935–39 they collaborated on three plays and a travel book.


From around 1927 to 1939 Auden and Isherwood maintained a lasting but intermittent sexual friendship while both had briefer but more intense relations with other men.


In 1928 he wrote his first dramatic work, Paid on Both Sides, subtitled "A Charade", which combined style and content from the Icelandic sagas with jokes from English school life. This mixture of tragedy and farce, with a dream play-within-a-play, introduced the mixed styles and content of much of his later work. This drama and thirty short poems appeared in his first published book Poems (1930, 2nd edition with seven poems replaced, 1933); the poems in the book were mostly lyrical and gnomic mediations on hoped-for or unconsummated love and on themes of personal, social, and seasonal renewal; among these poems were "It was Easter as I walked," "Doom is dark," "Sir, no man's enemy," and "This lunar beauty."


On returning to Britain in 1929, he worked briefly as a tutor. In 1930 his first published book, Poems (1930), was accepted by T. S. Eliot for Faber and Faber, and the same firm remained the British publisher of all the books he published thereafter. In 1930 he began five years as a schoolmaster in boys' schools: two years at the Larchfield Academy in Helensburgh, Scotland, then three years at the Downs School in the Malvern Hills, where he was a much-loved Teacher. At the Downs, in June 1933, he experienced what he later described as a "Vision of Agape", while sitting with three fellow-teachers at the school, when he suddenly found that he loved them for themselves, that their existence had infinite value for him; this experience, he said, later influenced his decision to return to the Anglican Church in 1940.


In the US, starting in the late 1930s, the detached, ironic tone of Auden's regular stanzas became influential; John Ashbery recalled that in the 1940s Auden "was the modern poet". Auden's formal influences were so pervasive in American poetry that the ecstatic style of the Beat Generation was partly a reaction against his influence. From the 1940s through the 1960s, many critics lamented that Auden's work had declined from its earlier promise; Randall Jarrell wrote a series of essays making a case against Auden's later work, and Philip Larkin's "What's Become of Wystan?" (1960) had a wide impact.


Auden's next large-scale work was The Orators: An English Study (1932; revised editions, 1934, 1966), in verse and prose, largely about hero-worship in personal and political life. In his shorter poems, his style became more open and accessible, and the exuberant "Six Odes" in The Orators reflect his new interest in Robert Burns. During the next few years, many of his poems took their form and style from traditional ballads and popular songs, and also from expansive classical forms like the Odes of Horace, which he seems to have discovered through the German poet Hölderlin. Around this time his main influences were Dante, william Langland, and Alexander Pope.


His verse drama The Dance of Death (1933) was a political extravaganza in the style of a theatrical revue, which Auden later called "a nihilistic leg-pull." His next play The Dog Beneath the Skin (1935), written in collaboration with Isherwood, was similarly a quasi-Marxist updating of Gilbert and Sullivan in which the general idea of social transformation was more prominent than any specific political action or structure.


From 1935 until he left Britain early in 1939, Auden worked as freelance reviewer, Essayist, and lecturer, first with the GPO Film Unit, a documentary film-making branch of the post office, headed by John Grierson. Through his work for the Film Unit in 1935 he met and collaborated with Benjamin Britten, with whom he also worked on plays, song cycles, and a libretto. Auden's plays in the 1930s were performed by the Group Theatre, in productions that he supervised to varying degrees.


In 1936 Auden's publisher chose the title Look, Stranger! for a collection of political odes, love poems, comic songs, meditative lyrics, and a variety of intellectually intense but emotionally accessible verse; Auden hated the title and retitled the collection for the 1937 US edition On This Island). Among the poems included in the book are "Hearing of harvests", "Out on the lawn I lie in bed", "O what is that sound", "Look, stranger, on this island now" (later revised versions change "on" to "at"), and "Our hunting fathers".


Auden was now arguing that an Artist should be a kind of Journalist, and he put this view into practice in Letters from Iceland (1937) a travel book in prose and verse written with Louis Macneice, which included his long social, literary, and autobiographical commentary "Letter to Lord Byron". In 1937, after observing the Spanish Civil War he wrote a politically engaged pamphlet poem Spain (1937); he later discarded it from his collected works. Journey to a War (1939) a travel book in prose and verse, was written with Isherwood after their visit to the Sino-Japanese War. Auden's last collaboration with Isherwood was their third play, On the Frontier, an anti-war satire written in Broadway and West End styles.


After his death, some of his poems, notably "Funeral Blues", "Musée des Beaux Arts", "Refugee Blues", "The Unknown Citizen", and "September 1, 1939", became known to a much wider public than during his lifetime through films, broadcasts, and popular media.


In 1940 Auden wrote a long philosophical poem "New Year Letter", which appeared with Miscellaneous notes and other poems in The Double Man (1941). At the time of his return to the Anglican Communion he began writing abstract verse on theological themes, such as "Canzone" and "Kairos and Logos". Around 1942, as he became more comfortable with religious themes, his verse became more open and relaxed, and he increasingly used the syllabic verse he had learned from the poetry of Marianne Moore.


In 1941 Kallman ended their sexual relationship because he could not accept Auden's insistence on mutual fidelity, but he and Auden remained companions for the rest of Auden's life, sharing houses and apartments from 1953 until Auden's death. Auden dedicated both editions of his collected poetry (1945/50 and 1966) to Isherwood and Kallman.


Auden's work in this era addresses the artist's temptation to use other persons as material for his art rather than valuing them for themselves ("Prospero to Ariel") and the corresponding moral obligation to make and keep commitments while recognising the temptation to break them ("In Sickness and Health"). From 1942 through 1947 he worked mostly on three long poems in dramatic form, each differing from the others in form and content: "For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio", "The Sea and the Mirror: A Commentary on Shakespeare's The Tempest" (both published in For the Time Being, 1944), and The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue (published separately in 1947). The first two, with Auden's other new poems from 1940 to 1944, were included in his first collected edition, The Collected Poetry of W. H. Auden (1945), with most of his earlier poems, many in revised versions.


In mid-1945, after the end of World War II in Europe, he was in Germany with the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, studying the effects of Allied bombing on German morale, an experience that affected his postwar work as his visit to Spain had affected him earlier. On his return, he settled in Manhattan, working as a freelance Writer, a lecturer at The New School for Social Research, and a visiting professor at Bennington, Smith, and other American colleges. In 1946 he became a naturalised citizen of the US.


After completing The Age of Anxiety in 1946 he focused again on shorter poems, notably "A Walk After Dark", "The Love Feast", and "The Fall of Rome". Many of these evoked the Italian village where he spent his summers between 1948–57, and his next book, Nones (1951), had a Mediterranean atmosphere new to his work. A new theme was the "sacred importance" of the human body in its ordinary aspect (breathing, sleeping, eating) and the continuity with nature that the body made possible (in contrast to the division between humanity and nature that he had emphasised in the 1930s); his poems on these themes included "In Praise of Limestone" (1948) and "Memorial for the City" (1949). In 1949 Auden and Kallman wrote the libretto for Igor Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress, and later collaborated on two libretti for operas by Hans Werner Henze.


In 1948, Auden began spending his summers in Europe, together with Chester Kallman, first in Ischia, Italy, where he rented a house. Then, starting in 1958, he began spending his summers in Kirchstetten, Austria, where he bought a farmhouse from the prize money of the Premio Feltrinelli awarded to him in 1957. He said that he shed tears of joy at owning a home for the first time. In 1956–61, Auden was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University where he was required to give three lectures each year. This fairly light workload allowed him to continue to spend winter in New York, where he lived at 77 St. Mark's Place in Manhattan's East Village, and to spend summer in Europe, spending only three weeks each year lecturing in Oxford. He earned his income mostly from readings and lecture tours, and by writing for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines.


In the late 1950s Auden's style became less rhetorical while its range of styles increased. In 1958, having moved his summer home from Italy to Austria, he wrote "Good-bye to the Mezzogiorno"; other poems from this period include "Dichtung und Wahrheit: An Unwritten Poem", a prose poem about the relation between love and personal and poetic language, and the contrasting "Dame Kind", about the anonymous impersonal reproductive instinct. These and other poems, including his 1955–66 poems about history, appeared in Homage to Clio (1960). His prose book The Dyer's Hand (1962) gathered many of the lectures he gave in Oxford as Professor of Poetry in 1956–61, together with revised versions of essays and notes written since the mid-1940s.


The first full-length study of Auden was Richard Hoggart's Auden: An Introductory Essay (1951), which concluded that "Auden's work, then, is a civilising force." It was followed by Joseph Warren Beach's The Making of the Auden Canon (1957), a disapproving account of Auden's revisions of his earlier work. The first systematic critical account was Monroe K. Spears' The Poetry of W. H. Auden: The Disenchanted Island (1963), "written out of the conviction that Auden's poetry can offer the reader entertainment, instruction, intellectual excitement, and a prodigal variety of aesthetic pleasures, all in a generous abundance that is unique in our time."


In 1955–56 Auden wrote a group of poems about "history", the term he used to mean the set of unique events made by human choices, as opposed to "nature", the set of involuntary events created by natural processes, statistics, and anonymous forces such as crowds. These poems included "T the Great", "The Maker", and the title poem of his next collection Homage to Clio (1960).


Auden was one of three candidates recommended by the Nobel Committee to the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1963 and 1965 and six recommended for the 1964 prize. By the time of his death in 1973 he had attained the status of a respected elder statesman, and a memorial stone for him was placed in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1974. The Encyclopædia Britannica writes that "by the time of Eliot's death in 1965 ... a convincing case could be made for the assertion that Auden was indeed Eliot's successor, as Eliot had inherited sole claim to supremacy when Yeats died in 1939." With some exceptions, British critics tended to treat his early work as his best, while American critics tended to favour his middle and later work.


Among the new styles and forms in Auden's later work were the haiku and tanka that he began writing after translating the haiku and other verse in Dag Hammarskjöld's Markings. A sequence of fifteen poems about his house in Austria, "Thanksgiving for a Habitat" (written in various styles that included an imitation of william Carlos Williams) appeared in About the House (1965), together with other poems that included his reflection on his lecture tours, "On the Circuit". In the late 1960s he wrote some of his most vigorous poems, including "River Profile" and two poems that looked back over his life, "Prologue at Sixty" and "Forty Years On". All these appeared in City Without Walls (1969). His lifelong passion for Icelandic legend culminated in his verse translation of The Elder Edda (1969). Among his later themes was the "religionless Christianity" he learned partly from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the dedicatee of his poem "Friday's Child."


A Certain World: A Commonplace Book (1970) was a kind of self-portrait made up of favourite quotations with commentary, arranged in alphabetical order by subject. His last prose book was a selection of essays and reviews, Forewords and Afterwords (1973). His last books of verse, Epistle to a Godson (1972) and the unfinished Thank You, Fog (published posthumously, 1974) include reflective poems about language ("Natural Linguistics", "Aubade"), philosophy and science ("No, Plato, No", "Unpredictable but Providential"), and his own aging ("A New Year Greeting", "Talking to Myself", "A Lullaby" ["The din of work is subdued"]). His last completed poem was "Archaeology", about ritual and timelessness, two recurring themes in his later years.


Public recognition of Auden's work sharply increased after his "Funeral Blues" ("Stop all the clocks") was read aloud in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994); subsequently, a pamphlet edition of ten of his poems, Tell Me the Truth About Love, sold more than 275,000 copies. After 11 September 2001 his 1939 poem "September 1, 1939" was widely circulated and frequently broadcast. Public readings and broadcast tributes in the UK and US in 2007 marked his centenary year.

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