By DAVID COLLARD
The W. H. Auden Society Newsletter has appeared more or less annually since its inaugural issue in April 1988. Plain in layout, wonderfully rich in content, scholarly but not academic, it's an indispensable omnium gatherum of all things Auden – eccentric, eclectic, unpredictable and endlessly fascinating.
My favourite Newsletter item dates back to the fourth issue (October 1989) when a young Toby Litt, long before he achieved fame as a novelist, contributed a dazzling little essay entitled “From ‘Acedia’ to ‘Zeitgeist’: Auden in the 2nd Edition of the OED”. (Before I go any further I have to gratefully acknowledge my debt to his essay as a source for this blog.)
Litt begins his piece with a quotation from Auden, taken from an interview in 1971:
“One of my great ambitions is to get into the OED as the first person to have used in print a new word. I have two candidates at the moment, which I used in my review of J. R. Ackerley’s autobiography. They are ‘Plain-sewing’ and ‘Princeton-First-Year’. They refer to two types of homosexual behaviour.”