W. H. Auden - Writers, Timeline and Childhood

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W. H. Auden's Personal Details

Wystan Hugh Auden was an Anglo-American poet considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century

InformationDetail
BirthdayFebruary 21, 1907
Died onSeptember 29, 1973
NationalityBritish
FamousHumanitarian, Oxford University, Writers, Poets
SpousesErika Mann
SiblingsGeorge Bernard Auden, John Bicknell Auden
Known asW.H. Auden, Wystan Hugh Auden, Auden, W.H.
Universities
  • Oxford University
  • Christ Church
  • Oxford
  • Gresham's School
  • 1928 - University of Oxford
Notable Alumnis
  • Oxford University
Birth PlaceYork
ReligionAnglicanism, Christianity
GenderMale
FatherGeorge Augustus Auden
MotherConstance Rosalie Bicknell Auden
Sun SignPisces
Born inYork
Famous asPoet
Died at Age66

// Famous Writers

W. H. Auden's photo

Who is W. H. Auden?

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

// Famous Humanitarian

Childhood & Early Life

W. H. Auden was born on February 21, 1907 in York, England as the third son to George Augustus, who was a physician, and Constance Rosalie, a trained missionary nurse and a strict Anglican.

He had two elder brothers; George Bernard who became a farmer and John Bicknell who grew up to be a geologist. Auden realized that he had lost his faith during his teens.

His first went to the St. Edmund’s School in Surrey and when he was 13 joined the Gresham’s School in Norfolk where his first poems were published in 1923. He eventually graduated with a third-class degree in 1928 from Christ Church, Oxford University.

Career

Auden’s first book titled ‘Poems’ featured an approximate 20 poems and was published privately by his friend, Stephen Spender, in 1928.

After graduation W. H. Auden went to Berlin for a few months and there he fell in love with the German language and poetry. He returned, and in 1930 became a schoolmaster in Scotland and England for the next five years.

In 1930 Auden published another collection by the same name ‘Poems’ which included a drama and 30 short poems. The book featured his first dramatic work ‘Paid on Both Sides: A Charade’ which was a fascinating amalgam of Icelandic sagas and English school life.

In several of his works he constantly highlighted the difference between the biological and the psychological evolution of individuals and their cultures, and maintained a certain obsession with unseen psychological effects (or his so-called family ghosts).

In the 1930s he was regarded as a political poet as his work expressed left-wing views and he continuously analyzed the evils of Capitalist society. In many poems he dwells on bringing a revolutionary change in the society through a change in the hearts of the people.

He also ventured into the film industry and he worked with the G.P.O. Film Unit and wrote his famous verse commentary for the 1936 documentary film ‘Night Mail’.

The 31-poem book ’Look, Stranger’ was released in UK, in 1936, and in U.S. in 1937 with the title ‘On This Island’, which was Auden’s preferred title.

His work ’Letters from Iceland’ (1937) is a travel book in prose and verse, co-written with Louis MacNeice, which features a series of letters and travel notes by the two during their trip to Iceland. His poem ‘Spain’ was an account of his experiences in Spain during the civil war of 1936 to 1939.

In 1940 varying reasons led him back to his Anglican Communion and he joined the Episcopal Church. His return to religion also left an impression on his writing as now the themes were more religious and spiritual, rather than political. With more writing, he became quite comfortable and apt and soon started using syllabic verses.

He taught English at the Michigan University in 1941 for a year and then at the Swarthmore College for the next three years.

In the summer of 1945 he underwent a yet another inspiration-drawing stay in Germany with the US Strategic Bombing Survey, where he studied the effects of US bombing on the German morale.

He settled in Manhattan after coming back from Germany and became a lecturer at The New School for Social Research. He also served as a visiting professor at numerous other colleges and became a naturalized US citizen in 1946.

From 1948 to 1957 he spent some months in Europe every year and incorporated these experiences in several poems including ‘A Walk after Dark’ and ‘The Love Feast’.

From the early 1960s he started increasing his range of styles which could be easily seen in his books like ‘Homage to Clio’ (1960), ‘The Dyer’s Hand’ (1962), and ‘About the House’ (1965).

The poems ‘Prologue at Sixty’ and ‘Forty Years On’ were published in the 1969 book ‘City without Walls’ and described the poet’s life so far.

’A Certain World: A Commonplace Book’ was published in 1970 and acted as a self-portrait for Auden. The book contained his selected quotations in an alphabetical sequence.

In his last books of verses, ‘Epistle to a Godson’ (1972) and the unfinished ‘Thank You, Fog’ the themes focused on language and the poet’s ageing.

Major Works

W. H. Auden wrote the poem ‘The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue’ in 1947 and a year later won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for it. The writing style is a modernized version of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse and the poem revolves around four characters. The theme of the poem is the quest of human beings to find the real reason and purpose of their existence in this ever changing world.

Awards & Achievements

W. H. Auden won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his long-poem ‘The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue’ in 1948.

He was honored with the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1954.

He received the National Book Award for Poetry for his book ‘The Shield of Achilles’ in 1956. He was also a prestigious member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters honorary society.

Personal Life & Legacy

W. H. Auden married only once in his life and that too was to help a friend, Erika Mann, get British Citizenship so that she could escape from the clutches of the Nazi Germans. The marriage remained unconsummated and the couple parted ways soon after.

After shifting to the US from Britain in 1939 he met the love of his life – Chester Kallman. Kallman too was a poet and the couple remained as lovers for the next two years. As Kallman feared commitment she eventually distanced herself from the relationship but remained a lifetime friend of Auden and shared a house with him till his demise on 29 September 1973.

// Famous Alumni of Oxford University

W. H. Auden awards

YearNameAward

Other

1942Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts;US & Canada
1970St. Louis Literary Award
1968American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Poetry
1948 - Pulitzer Prize for Poetry - The Age of Anxiety
1954 - Bollingen Prize
1956 - National Book Award for Poetry - The Shield of Achilles

W. H. Auden biography timelines

  • // 21st Feb 1907
    W. H. Auden was born on February 21, 1907 in York, England as the third son to George Augustus, who was a physician, and Constance Rosalie, a trained missionary nurse and a strict Anglican.
  • // 1923 To 1928
    His first went to the St. Edmund’s School in Surrey and when he was 13 joined the Gresham’s School in Norfolk where his first poems were published in 1923. He eventually graduated with a third-class degree in 1928 from Christ Church, Oxford University.
  • // 1928
    Auden’s first book titled ‘Poems’ featured an approximate 20 poems and was published privately by his friend, Stephen Spender, in 1928.
  • // 1930
    After graduation W. H. Auden went to Berlin for a few months and there he fell in love with the German language and poetry. He returned, and in 1930 became a schoolmaster in Scotland and England for the next five years.
  • // 1930
    In 1930 Auden published another collection by the same name ‘Poems’ which included a drama and 30 short poems. The book featured his first dramatic work ‘Paid on Both Sides: A Charade’ which was a fascinating amalgam of Icelandic sagas and English school life.
  • // 1936
    He also ventured into the film industry and he worked with the G.P.O. Film Unit and wrote his famous verse commentary for the 1936 documentary film ‘Night Mail’.
  • // 1936 To 1937
    The 31-poem book ’Look, Stranger’ was released in UK, in 1936, and in U.S. in 1937 with the title ‘On This Island’, which was Auden’s preferred title.
  • // 1936 To 1939
    His work ’Letters from Iceland’ (1937) is a travel book in prose and verse, co-written with Louis MacNeice, which features a series of letters and travel notes by the two during their trip to Iceland. His poem ‘Spain’ was an account of his experiences in Spain during the civil war of 1936 to 1939.
  • // 1939 To 29th Sep 1973
    After shifting to the US from Britain in 1939 he met the love of his life – Chester Kallman. Kallman too was a poet and the couple remained as lovers for the next two years. As Kallman feared commitment she eventually distanced herself from the relationship but remained a lifetime friend of Auden and shared a house with him till his demise on 29 September 1973.
  • // 1940
    In 1940 varying reasons led him back to his Anglican Communion and he joined the Episcopal Church. His return to religion also left an impression on his writing as now the themes were more religious and spiritual, rather than political. With more writing, he became quite comfortable and apt and soon started using syllabic verses.
  • // 1941
    He taught English at the Michigan University in 1941 for a year and then at the Swarthmore College for the next three years.
  • // 1945
    In the summer of 1945 he underwent a yet another inspiration-drawing stay in Germany with the US Strategic Bombing Survey, where he studied the effects of US bombing on the German morale.
  • // 1946
    He settled in Manhattan after coming back from Germany and became a lecturer at The New School for Social Research. He also served as a visiting professor at numerous other colleges and became a naturalized US citizen in 1946.
  • // 1947
    W. H. Auden wrote the poem ‘The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue’ in 1947 and a year later won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for it. The writing style is a modernized version of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse and the poem revolves around four characters. The theme of the poem is the quest of human beings to find the real reason and purpose of their existence in this ever changing world.
  • // 1948 To 1957
    From 1948 to 1957 he spent some months in Europe every year and incorporated these experiences in several poems including ‘A Walk after Dark’ and ‘The Love Feast’.
  • // 1948
    W. H. Auden won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his long-poem ‘The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue’ in 1948.
  • // 1954
    He was honored with the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1954.
  • // 1956
    He received the National Book Award for Poetry for his book ‘The Shield of Achilles’ in 1956. He was also a prestigious member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters honorary society.
  • // 1960 To 1965
    From the early 1960s he started increasing his range of styles which could be easily seen in his books like ‘Homage to Clio’ (1960), ‘The Dyer’s Hand’ (1962), and ‘About the House’ (1965).
  • // 1969
    The poems ‘Prologue at Sixty’ and ‘Forty Years On’ were published in the 1969 book ‘City without Walls’ and described the poet’s life so far.
  • // 1970
    ’A Certain World: A Commonplace Book’ was published in 1970 and acted as a self-portrait for Auden. The book contained his selected quotations in an alphabetical sequence.
  • // 1972
    In his last books of verses, ‘Epistle to a Godson’ (1972) and the unfinished ‘Thank You, Fog’ the themes focused on language and the poet’s ageing.

// Famous Poets

W. H. Auden's FAQ

  • What is W. H. Auden birthday?

    W. H. Auden was born at 1907-02-21

  • When was W. H. Auden died?

    W. H. Auden was died at 1973-09-29

  • Where was W. H. Auden died?

    W. H. Auden was died in Vienna

  • Which age was W. H. Auden died?

    W. H. Auden was died at age 66

  • Where is W. H. Auden's birth place?

    W. H. Auden was born in York

  • What is W. H. Auden nationalities?

    W. H. Auden's nationalities is British

  • Who is W. H. Auden spouses?

    W. H. Auden's spouses is Erika Mann

  • Who is W. H. Auden siblings?

    W. H. Auden's siblings is George Bernard Auden, John Bicknell Auden

  • What was W. H. Auden universities?

    W. H. Auden studied at Oxford University, Christ Church, Oxford, Gresham's School, 1928 - University of Oxford

  • What was W. H. Auden notable alumnis?

    W. H. Auden's notable alumnis is Oxford University

  • What is W. H. Auden's religion?

    W. H. Auden's religion is Anglicanism, Christianity

  • Who is W. H. Auden's father?

    W. H. Auden's father is George Augustus Auden

  • Who is W. H. Auden's mother?

    W. H. Auden's mother is Constance Rosalie Bicknell Auden

  • What is W. H. Auden's sun sign?

    W. H. Auden is Pisces

  • How famous is W. H. Auden?

    W. H. Auden is famouse as Poet