In the early 1950s Auden began planning a prose volume that would bring together some of his published essays, lectures, and reviews, together with newly-written notes and aphorisms. In 1956 he was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and "The Dyer's Hand" appeared in 1962, combining earlier material with revised versions of many of his Oxford lectures: the result is one of Auden's most original works, his only book of prose devised as a single cohesive work about disparate subjects, and containing - as he remarked at the time - 'all the autobiography I am willing to make public'. "Speaking for myself, the questions which interest me most when reading a poem are two. The first is technical: "Here is a verbal contraption. How does it work?" The second is, in the broadest sense, moral: "What kind of a guy inhabits this poem? What is his notion of the good life or the good place? His notion of the Evil One? What does he conceal from the reader? What does he conceal even from himself?"" (W. H. Auden (inaugural lecture as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, June 1956)).
Publisher: Faber & Faber