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Wystan Hugh Auden (1907 - 1973)

In his poems, blending with seriousness, he manged to interpret the changing aspects of European culture in the restless period that led up to World War II. Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York in 1907 and soon moved to Birmingham, where his father worked as a Professor at Birmingham University. He was first educated at Gresham's School, Holt. In 1920 he went up to Christ College, Oxford, where he became the leading figure of what was later called "The New Country Group" or the "Auden Circle".
After leaving Oxford he spent a year in Berlin, under the Weimar Republic, when the threat of Nazism was already rising. While in Germany, he became interested in psychoanalysis and the theories of Freud, as well as in Brecht's drama and Marx's philosophy, and he embraced lefting ideologies. In 1930 he returned to England, where he worked as a schoolmaster for a few years. During this period he began publishing his first volumes. In 1935 he married Erika Mann, daughter of the famous German novelist, in order to provide her with a British passport when the Nazis deprived her of her German citizenship.

In 1936 he went to Iceland with his friend Louis MacNiece and, in 1938, to China with Christopher Isherwood. When the Civil War broke out in Spain, he served on the Republican side as a stretcher-bearer.
In early 1939 he emigrated to the United states and eventually took U.S. citizenship. He did not, however, break his links with Europe, where he used to spend some months every year, first in Italy then in Austria. From 1956 to 1961 he taught at Oxford as Professor of poetry. He died in Austria on September 29th, 1973.

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