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On This Day in History, February 21: W.H. Auden Born

Poet Wystan Hugh (W.H.) Auden was born in York, England, on Feb. 21, 1907.

Auden’s first book, Poems, was accepted by no less than T.S. Eliot for Faber & Faber, and published in 1930. Auden traveled extensively, living in Berlin, Spain and China before moving to New York in 1939.

 Auden moved to the Yorkville district of Manhattan in April of 1939 and was living there on the day the Germans invaded Poland, when he penned one of his most famous poems, “September 1, 1939.”

Soon after, Auden moved to Brooklyn, renting the top floor of One Montague Terrace. He wrote his childhood friend, Mrs. A.E. Dodd, on Oct. 27, 1939. “This house has the most beautiful view in New York: looking out over water at the towers of Manhattan...”

In October 1940 he moved to 7 Middagh St., a now legendary bohemian brownstone on the northern edge of Brooklyn Heights that was occupied by artists such as writer Carson McCullers and editor George Davis.

Auden wrote hundreds of poems and completed the first comprehensive publication of his works, The Collected Poetry of W.H. Auden, in 1945, then The Age of Anxiety in 1946, when he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Auden’s later years were spent as a professor of poetry at Oxford University and writing for The New Yorker and other magazines.  

—Brad Lockwood

February 21, 2012 - 9:38am


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