Stephen Spender was, with his friends W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, one of the poets who came to define the 1930s and Weimar Germany.

Spender’s poetry was first discovered by T.S. Eliot, one of the many fabled writers - from Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre to Virginia Woolf and Dylan Thomas - with whom he became friends. He was a pre-war Communist who then became disillusioned and reported on the Spanish Civil War for the Daily Worker, spending some time in prison in Albacete. During the Second World War he was exempted from military service for medical reasons. As well as poetry and teaching, Spender edited Horizon and Encounter, the two key cultural magazines of the mid-century.