Stephen Spender

Author: Stephen Spender

Profile: Sir Stephen Harold Spender is better known as Stephen Spender. Stephen Spender was an English poet, essayist and novelist. He was born in Kensington, London, England and died in St. John’s Wood, London, England. He completed his education at Hall School in Hampstead, then Gresham’s School, Holt, later at Charlecote School in Worthing, University College School, Hampstead and later at University College, Oxford. Inez Pearn and Natasha Litvin were his 2 spouses. W.H.Auden was the biggest influential friend in his life who introduced him to Christopher Isherwood. Spender had hand-printed the earliest version of Poems, which Auden wrote. Every half a year Spender moved from England to Hamburg on Isherwood’s invitation.

Spender was familiarized with a number of fellow Auden Group as well as Bloomsbury Group members. In the year 1929 he started work on a novel under the title The Temple. In 1933, T.S. Eliot an editor at Faber & Faber discovered Spender and in the same year he became a Communist Party of Great Britain, member. Head of the Party invited Spender to write for the Daily Worker on the Moscow Trails. Spender always felt close to Jewish people as his mother was half-Jewish. As a member of the Allied Control Commission, Spender assisted in civil authority restoration in Germany as well.

Writing style: Stephen Spender’s work was directed more on themes related to class struggle and social injustice.

Published Texts:


1943 – Spiritual Exercises

1947 – Poems of Dedication

1949 – The Edge of Being

1928-1953 (1955) – Collected Poems

1965 – Selected Poems

1966 – The Express

1971 – The Generous Days

1974 – Selected Poems

1978 – Recent Poems

1928 – 1985 (1986) – Collected Poems

1994 – Dolphins

2004 – New Collected Poems


1938 – Trial of a Judge

1958 – Rasputin’s End

1985 – The Oedipus Trilogy

Novels and short story collections

1936 – The Burning Cactus

1940 – The Backward Son

1958 – Engaged in Writing

1988 – The Temple

Criticism, travel books and essays

1935 – The Destructive Element

1937 – Forward from Liberalism

1942 – Life and the Poet

1945 – Citizens in War – and After

1946 – European Witness

1945 – Poetry Since 1939

1949 – The God that Failed

1952 – Learning Laughter

1953 – The Creative Element

The Making of a Poem

1963 – The Struggle of the Modern

1969 – The Year of the Young Rebels

1974 – Love-Hate Relations

1975 – Eliot

1975 – W.H. Auden: A Tribute

1978 – The Thirties and After

1982 – China Diary


1951 – World Within World

Awards and Acknowledgements:

In 1965 Stephen Spender was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the United States Library of Congress.

At the Queen’s Birthday Honors in 1962, Spender was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and in 1983 knighted at the Queen’s Birthday Honors

Spender’s poem ‘The Truly Great’ was quoted by US. President Ronald Reagan in 1984

The Stephen Spender Trust was founded as a registered charity trust to increase knowledge of the twentieth century literature with greater focus in promoting literary translation and focus Spender’s circle of writers.

1995 – Awarded the Golden PEN Award


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