Louis MacNeice Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Frederick Louis MacNeice (muhk-NEES) was born in Belfast, North Ireland, on September 12, 1907, of parents who had come from the west of Ireland. After a career as a poet, classics scholar, university lecturer, and feature writer for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), he died of pneumonia in London, September 3, 1963.{$S[A]Malone, Louis;MacNeice, Louis}

In 1926 MacNeice entered Merton College at Oxford, and he remained there until 1930, when he married and moved to Birmingham, where he was lecturer in classics until 1936. Next, he went to London and lectured in Greek at the Bedford College for Women. He was highly regarded as a classicist, and his translation of the Agamemnon of Aeschylus is considered excellent.

At the outbreak of World War II, MacNeice was lecturing at Cornell University in the United States; subsequently he returned to Britain and made a lasting reputation writing programs for the BBC. His verse plays for radio stand as the most brilliant of that genre. His wartime piece, The Dark Tower, the most memorable of all, was written in collaboration with the British composer Benjamin Britten.

In the 1930’s MacNeice was widely recognized as one of the so-called Oxford group, including W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and C. Day Lewis, all poets who had attended Oxford. These poets, reacting to the image of modern society as a “wasteland,” as popularized by T. S. Eliot, were notable for having...

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