W. H. Auden

(2200 words)
  • Michael O'Neill (University of Durham)

W. H. Auden, one of the very greatest twenteth-century English poets, was born in York in 1907. His father George was a doctor, who would become School Medical Officer and Professor of Public Health in Birmingham. His mother Constance was a nurse, musical and religious in a High Church fashion that left its mark on later Auden's self-ironizing love of verbal and intellectual display (“Mother wouldn't like it”, he would say in middle age); when he was eight, she taught him the words and music of the great love-potion scene in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, so that they could sing the duet (Auden was Isolde). After school at St Edmund's, Hindhead, Surrey (1915-20) where he met Christopher Isherwood, and Gresham's School, Holt, …

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Citation:
O'Neill, Michael. "W. H. Auden". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 July 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5107, accessed 31 July 2015.]

Articles on Auden's works

  1. Musée des Beaux Arts

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  2. The Sonnet Tradition