Four days to enjoy Auden's best work

A four-day festival designed to mark the important Norfolk connections of one of the country's greatest ever poets will be held at Holt this month.

A four-day festival designed to mark the important Norfolk connections of one of the country's greatest ever poets will be held at Holt later this month.

WH Auden's time as a pupil at Gresham's School in the 1920s saw the start of his lifelong and hugely significant interest in writing.

The school helped mark the centenary of Auden's birth earlier in the year, but on September 13 a second series of events will kick off, and several key names will appear to give talks, hold discussions about the poet's extensive body of work and enjoy some of his writing.

The school's former English teacher John Smart, who - as revealed in the EDP earlier in the year - has recently discovered a number of apparently anonymous poems in the Gresham's archive thought to have been written by Auden, explained what the celebrations would offer.


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“We have a smashing line-up of people, from Oxford lecturer Craig Raine through our patron Lord Gowrie, who is a former Conservative arts minister, to Katherine Bucknell, who edited the book WH Auden: Juvenilia - Poems 1922-28,” said Mr Smart.

“The aim of the festival is to hold an international event. The current pupils at the school are welcome to come of course and I hope they will enjoy it, but the main idea is an event open to all.

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“And the events are not just lectures and talking. They include the opera The Rake's Progress, showings of Auden films and a walk around the area here in and around Holt which helped influence Auden. People who have only ever previously thought of Auden in the landscape of the Pennines, for instance, will be able to imagine him here in Norfolk, at Gresham's.”

The full line up of the festival is:

September 13: Opera East Productions present The Rake's Progress, 7.30pm.

September 14: Craig Raine and Blake Morrison, Auden Today, 8pm.

September 15: Prof Christopher Smith, Auden and Britten, 10am. Katherine Bucknell, Auden's Juvenilia, 11.45am. Lord Gowrie, Post-war Auden, 2pm. Auden walk, 3.15pm to 4.30pm. Prof Lahey, Auden and Religion, 5pm. Auden films, 3.15pm to 6pm. Stephen Miles, cabaret songs, 6pm. Festival dinner and cabaret songs, Stephen Miles, 8pm.

September 16: Centenary service in the school chapel.

The events will be held in the school's Auden Theatre, the chapel, Big School and Farfield House.

For more information log on to www.in-praise-of-auden.org.uk. Tickets for individual events, or an all-day ticket for the Saturday are available at the Auden Theatre box office on 01263 713444.

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