Steven L. Isenberg in The American Scholar:
The British writers W. H. Auden, E. M. Forster, Philip Larkin, and William Empson paid respectful attention to each other: Larkin wrote “English Auden was a superb and magnetic wide-angled poet, but the poetry was in the blaming and the warning.” Empson thought Auden a “wonderful poet” and put Larkin among the “very good poets.” Auden wrote a sonnet for Forster, and Empson wrote a poem called “Just a Smack at Auden.” Forster’s novels were touchstones for Auden, who cabled “Morgan” Forster on his 80th birthday these good wishes: “May you long continue what you already are stop old famous loved yet not yet a sacred cow.” Empson thought Forster’s Aspects of the Novel—lectures he had heard as a student at Cambridge—“a model.”
For me the four have another thing in common, the unlikely and unexpected occasions of my having met each of them for lunch. Those visits are always with me, and while I kept no diary and so remember fewer of their words than I wish, the memories I do have are testimony to their humanity and kindness.
More here. [Photo shows Auden.]