This is a very well-done life of W. H. Auden, a man who may well turn out to be the finest English poet of the twentieth century. It is a fascinating work, which traces Auden's literary and poetical development in tandem with all the events in his real life in this real world. The most important of them (for Auden) was his life-long love of Chester Kallman, which became quite complex over time -- Auden reported feelings of paternal solicitude, jealousy, and erotic rivalry -- all occurring at the same time! Unusually, for a major biography of a major poet, there are scenes from the poet's cottage at Fire Island, which help to situate Auden in a very real New York social world.
But none of this is what set Auden apart -- not his romances nor his politics. Unlike some other poets, Auden worked at his craft unceasingly, probably becoming a leading world expert on poetic meter.
And he worked at his art. Anyone who has ever practiced any sort of craft or art -- ballet, writing, whatever -- knows well just how hard it is to make things seem effortless. And so Auden could produce such "effortless" things as the opening to his "Lullaby" ---
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
If that looks easy to you, just have a go yourself! :-)
In summary: a very good biography of a major poet. Highest recommendation!