Sir Stephen Harold Spender was born on February 28, 1909, in London. He attended Oxford University and fought in the Spanish Civil War. In the 1920s and 1930s he associated with other poets and socialists, such as W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Louis MacNeice, and C. Day Lewis, and his early poetry was often inspired by social protest. During World War II, Spender worked for the London fire service. He co-founded Horizon magazine with Cyril Connolly and served as its editor from 1939 to 1941. He was editor of Encounter magazine from 1953 to 1966.
Spender's books of poetry include Twenty Poems (1930), Vienna (1934), The Still Centre (1939), Poems of Dedication (1946), and The Generous Days (1971). Spender was professor of English at University College, London, from 1970 to 1977, and gave frequent lecture tours in the United States. He was knighted in 1983. Spender died on July 16, 1995.