W.H. Auden

1 portrait by John Bicknell Auden

© estate of John Bicknell Auden

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W.H. Auden

by John Bicknell Auden
bromide print, 1928
6 in. x 4 1/4 in. (151 mm x 110 mm)
Purchased, 1989
Primary Collection
NPG P418

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • John Bicknell Auden (1903-1991), Geologist and explorer; brother of W.H. Auden. Artist or producer of 1 portrait, Sitter in 2 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Shortly before leaving Oxford in 1928, Auden's first collection of poems was published privately by fellow student Stephen Spender. In this photograph, taken by Auden's older brother in Threlkeld, Cumbria, he is shown wearing the hat that 'irritated' his friend Christopher Isherwood. Also in this year, Auden underwent psychoanalysis in an attempt to overcome his homosexuality, and became engaged to a young nurse. In the autumn he left England to spend a year in Berlin.

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Events of 1928back to top

Current affairs

The Representation of the People Act 1928 grants women the same rights to vote as men. Building on reform of 1918, this Act lowered the voting age for women from 30 to 21, and removed the ownership of property requirements.

Art and science

Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin. The Scottish scientist's identification of the first antibiotic revolutionised the treatment of infection and is a landmark in medical history. By the Second World War, penicillin was being used to treat wounded soldiers and had a major impact on survival rates of those with infected wounds.


Stalin announces the Soviet Union's first Five-Year plan of economic development. Based on Lenin's New Economic Policy, the Five-Year Plans aimed to expand the country's economy through rapid centralised industrialisation.

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