1. The famed poet, W. H. Auden (1907-1973), was born on February 21, 1907, in York, England. His given name was Wystan Hugh Auden.
2. Auden penned his first poem at 15-years-old. It simply said:
The twinkling lamps stream up the hill
Past the farm and past the mill
Right at the top of the road one sees
A round moon like a Stilton cheese.
3. Auden’s mother, Constance, was a devout member of the Church of England. Due to his mother’s devotion, the young Auden spent much of his time in the parish. He once remarked that his service as a choirboy provided him with “a sensitivity to language which I could not have acquired in any other way.”
4. A graduate of Oxford, Auden became known as the leader of the modernist “Oxford Group.” This was the name given to Auden and his contemporaries who preferred to write in free verse rather than more traditional methods of poetry.
5. Both of his grandfathers were Anglican ministers. He once noted that if he had not become a poet, then he might have served in the church as well.
7. Auden met his lover, Chester Kallman, after he moved to the United States. He often wrote of Kallman in his poems, yet he never revealed his lover’s gender.
8. He loved to travel. He journeyed across the world and visited or sojourned in countries such as China, Iceland, Germany, Austria, the United States, and the island of Ischia.
9. Auden is known for his disheveled appearance. Due to his habit of smoking, his dishevelment became even more grotesque. He developed a condition known as pachydermoperiostosis, which is the furrowing and thickening of the skin on one’s face, scalp, hands, and feet.
10. Prior to his death, he prohibited any of his private letters from being released to the public. He told his friends to burn any personal letter of his they came across. Auden died on September 29, 1973, at a hotel in Vienna at 66-years-old.