Bertolt Brecht was born on February 10, 1898 in Augsburg, Bavaria, and died on August 14, 1956. He was a German playwright, theatre director and Marxist. The modest house where he was born is today preserved as a Brecht Museum. Brecht formed a writing collective which became prolific and very influential. He wrote many lyrics for musicals and collaborated with Kurt Weill to create Die Dregroschenoper -- the biggest hit in 1920s Berlin. Brecht experimented with his own theater and company -- the Berliner Ensemble -- which put on his plays under his direction and which continued after his death with the assistance of his wife. Brecht aspired to create political theater, and it is difficult to evaluate his work in purely aesthetic terms. Brecht died in 1956.
W. H. Auden, who was born in York, England, on February 21, 1907, is one of the most successful and well-known poets of the 20th century. Educated at Oxford, Auden served in the Spanish Civil War, which greatly influenced his work. He also taught in public schools in Scotland and England during the 1930s. It was during this time that he rose to public fame with such works as "Paid on Both Sides" and "The Orators." Auden eventually immigrated to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1946. It was in the U.S. that he met his longtime partner Chester Kallman. Stylistically, Auden was known for his incomparable technique and his linguistic innovations. The term Audenesque became an adjective to describe the contemporary sounding speech reflected in his poems. Auden's numerous awards included a Bollingen Prize in Poetry, A National Book Award for "The Shield of Achilles," a National Medal for Literature from the National Book Committee, and a Gold Medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Numerous volumes of his poetry remain available today, including "About the House" and "City Without Walls." W.H. Auden died on September 28, 1973 in Vienna.