Jonathan Brown in The Independent:
“Death,” observed Wystan Hugh Auden, “is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic.” Now more than three decades after his demise, an ominous rumble of discontent is emanating from the direction of the late poet’s family, friends and admirers over how he should be remembered.
February next year marks the centenary of W H Auden’s birth, but it is feared the date is in danger of passing largely unnoticed and unremarked in his native Britain. The BBC admitted yesterday that in contrast to the star-studded celebrations marking Sir John Betjeman’s centenary this year, it had yet to commission any programming in honour of Auden.
And much to the dismay of the poet’s niece, overtures to the Royal Mail to issue a stamp celebrating the life of the author of Night Mail and his work for the groundbreaking GPO film unit, had been turned down flat.