Leon Trotsky & W. H. Auden - 77 St Marks Place

Art & Culture | History

Poetry, Political Activism and More in This Small St Marks Space

Leon Trotsky East Village History

About Leon Trotsky & W. H. Auden - 77 St Marks Place

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • #77 St. Marks Place has had its fair share of interesting inhabitants over the years. Two of the most notable are Leon Trotsky and W.H. Auden.
  • Trotsky didn’t actually live here, but he worked, spoke, influenced and incited revolution from the building’s basement headquarters, home of the Russian language socialist newspaper Novy Mir.
  • For those of you who have long forgotten your world history, here’s the scoop on this Trotsky fellow:
    • In 1917 there was a revolution in Russia, featuring the Bolsheviks (Commies, Workers, Marxists, Socialists) vs. the Monarchists (Czar, Aristocracy, Let-them-eat-cake-people).
    • Lenin was the leading man for the Bolsheviks, and Trotsky became his #2 and heir apparent.
    • Trotsky’s strategic thinking, speaking skills, and Red Army leadership were instrumental in the communist revolution’s success.
    • He was smart, and he knew it, and his ego rubbed a few people the wrong way, including another up-and-comer named Joseph Stalin.
    • When Lenin died, Trotsky’s power waned and Stalin out-maneuvered him to become the top dog.
    • Thus began the Trotsky/Stalin battle which led to Trotsky being ousted from the communist party, exiled to Mexico, and finally, murdered with an ice pick by one of Stalin’s assassins.
  • Several years after Trotsky, Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden would come to inhabit the second floor of the building.
  • And now, for those of us who have forgotten all we learned in literature class, here is a bit about this Auden fellow:
    • Wystan Hugh Auden is considered one of the most influential figures in 20th-century literature.
    • He was a very witty and exceptional writer who could write poetry in a variety of styles.  He won the Pulitzer Price in 1948 for his poem The Age of Anxiety.
    • Although best known for his poetry, he was also an accomplished playwright and author, and even collaborated on Stravinsky’s opera The Rake’s Progress.
    • Although Auden was gay, he married Erika Mann in 1935 to help her gain British citizenship and escape Nazi Germany.
    • They separated, and a few years later he met Chester Kallman, who became his lover, occasional writing partner, and lifelong companion.
    • Auden was a fan of the drink and frequented Holiday Cocktail Lounge, next door, where he shared bottles of cognac with the likes of Allen Ginsberg.
    • One of Auden’s most famous poems is called Stop all the Clocks, also known as The Funeral Blues, made famous again in later years when actor John Hannah read it during his performance in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Check it out below.


If that gets you excited about Auden, then, by all means, share the love by picking up one his books on Amazon!

The Age of Anxiety WH Auden on Amazon


By: Christi Scofield

New York City Tours

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