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Cecil Day-Lewis

In 1904, Cecil Day-Lewis was born in Ireland to Frank Day-Lewis and Kathleen Blake, the latter of whom died when Cecil was just two years old. Raised in London, Day-Lewis received his education at Sherborne School and Wadham College, where he studied under W.H. Auden, an esteemed poet. Throughout the 1930s, Day-Lewis taught at several schools; he supplemented this by publishing mystery novels – a sharp departure from his traditional material – under the pseudonym Nicholas Blake, something that would continue for the remainder of his life. Cecil Day-Lewis

At the same time, Day-Lewis brought great criticism on himself by joining the Communist Party of Great Britain and using his literary talents to edit a prominent text on Socialism. When he learned about the purges being carried out by Joseph Stalin, however, his allegiance to the Communist Party changed, as did his political leanings. During World War II, he worked in the Ministry of Information as a publications editor. By this point, his own literary style had begun to emerge, one free from the influences of Auden or his work. The remainder of his life was spent working in higher education: he was a lecturer at Cambridge University, a professor of poetry at Oxford University, the Norton professor at Harvard, and, at Gresham College, a rhetoric professor.

Before he passed away in 1972, Day-Lewis had been made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; served as chairman of the Arts Council Literature Panel and vice president of the Royal Society of Literature; and was a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. Ultimately, pancreatic cancer would be the cause of Day-Lewis’s death at the age of 68; he is buried at St. Michael’s Church near Thomas Hardy, one of his favorite authors.

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