Poet, son of a doctor, was born at York and educated at Gresham's School, Holt and Chirst Church, Oxford. After visitng Germany, he was a school master in this country for a short time. His first published work, Poems (1930), was followed by the Orators (1932), The Dance of Death (1933), and, Look Stranger (1936). Though not a communist, he became the leader of a new school of Leftist poets who were prominent in the decade before the Seconf World War, and whose work showed the influence if T.S. Eliot. In 1937 he served as a strecther-bearer in the Spanish Civil War, wrote a peom, Spain, and was awarded the King's medal for Poetry. He was coeditor of an anthology, The Poet's Tongue (1935), based on the principle that poetry is 'memorable speech' , and editor of the Oxford Book of Light Verse (1938). He married Erika Mann, daughter of the German novelist, and in 1938 moved permanently to the United States, adopted American citizenship, and taught in a number of american colleges and universities. Volumes of verse he published subsequently included Another Time (1940), New year Letter(1941), For the time Being (1945), and, the The Age of Anxiety (1948), Collected Shorter Poems appeared in 1950. In collaboration with Christopher Isherwood he wrote three verse plays, The Dog Beneath the Skin (1935), The Ascent of F6 (1936), and on the Frontier (1938). Later verse, showing Christian commitment, New year Letter (1941), The Age of Anxiety (1948), The shield of Achilles (1959), Homage to Clio (1960), About the House (1966).
Though often very close to conversational speech, Auden's poetry does not always escape the obscurity common among poets of the period. His work is difficult to asses because he has no definte style, but his influence is undoubted. He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1956 to 1961.