On This Gay Day: English – American poet W H Auden was born

British – American poet W.H. Auden was born on this day in 1907, his work was noted for it’s engagement with a wide range of topics from morals, to politics, love and religion.

Auden was born in York but grew up in Birmingham in a middle-class household. He studied English at Oxford at became a School Teacher. He travelled to Iceland and China writing about his journeys.

Auden collaborated with composer Benjamin Britten and author Christopher Isherwood, who he had a long friendship with. The two friends moved to America in 1939, Isherwood eventually settled in California while Auden remained in the New York area. Over the following decades he would continually travel and spend time living in Italy, and Austria.

He won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for his long poem the Age of Anxiety, and returned to Oxford from 1956 to 1961 serving as Professor of Poetry.

Over his career he published over 400 poems, some of them were book length. He also wrote many essays discussing literature, politics, religion and history. In the 1990’s he became more widely known when one of his poems Funeral Blues was featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. He died in 1973 aged 66.

OIP Staff

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