W.H. Auden

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W.H. Auden
Biographical Information
BornFebruary 21, 1907
DiedSeptember 29, 1973
EducationM.A. English language and literature, Christ Church, Oxford
LocationEngland/United States

Wystan Hugh Auden (21 February 190729 September 1973), Anglo-American poet, was a long-time friend of J.R.R. Tolkien and the two corresponded frequently.

Auden and Tolkien

I am [...] very deeply in Auden's debt in recent years. His support of me and interest in my work has been one of my chief encouragements. He gave me very good reviews, notices and letters from the beginning when it was by no means a popular thing to do. He was, in fact, sneered at for it.

Auden praised The Lord of the Rings highly, writing in a review of The Fellowship of the Ring in 1954 both that the book was an exciting adventure story and that Tolkien's world seemed believable and realistic: "[B]y the time one has finished his book one knows the histories of Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves and the landscape they inhabit as well as one knows one's own childhood."[1] In 1956, in a review of The Return of the King, Auden wrote:

Mr. Tolkien has succeeded more completely than any previous writer in this genre in using the traditional properties of the Quest, the heroic journey, the Numinous Object, the conflict between Good and Evil while at the same time satisfying our sense of historical and social reality. … To begin with, no previous writer has, to my knowledge, created an imaginary world and a feigned history in such detail. … But it is a world of intelligible law, not mere wish; the reader's sense of the credible is never violated … The demands made on the writer's powers in an epic as long as "The Lord of the Rings" are enormous and increase as the tale proceeds-the battles have to get more spectacular, the situations more critical, the adventures more thrilling-but I can only say that Mr. Tolkien has proved equal to them.[2]

In 1955, Auden sent an inscribed copy of his poetry collection The Shield of Achilles to Tolkien.[3]

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See also

External links


  1. W.H. Auden, "The Hero is a Hobbit". New York Times, October 31, 1954.
  2. W.H. Auden, "At the End of the Quest, Victory". New York Times, January 22, 1956.
  3. Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: I. Chronology, p. 480
  4. Oronzo Cilli, "Tolkien Society Facebook Group post" dated 4 December 2018, Facebook (accessed 5 December 2018)