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Edward Upward


Edward Upward was born in Romford, Essex in 1903. His father was a doctor and atheist. He attended Repton school, where he became friends with Christopher Isherwood. They remained friends till Isherwood’s death. Isherwood had been at prep school with W H Auden, and introduced Upward to him as well as introducing him to other noted literary figures of the time, such as Stephen Spender and John Lehmann. Both Isherwood and Auden went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

After Cambridge, he became a teacher. He wrote his first story there –The Railway Accident – which, though finished in 1928, was not published till 1948, in an expurgated edition, under a pseudonym. In 1932, he became a teacher at Alleyn’s School, Dulwich and stayed there till his retirement in 1961.

Upward had strong left-wing views and joined the Communist Party and visited the Soviet Union. During the war he worked in the auxiliary fire service. After the war he and his wife, Hilda resigned from the Communist Party, as they felt it was anti-revolutionary. Upward suffered from nervous depression but it was also the period during which he worked on his novel trilogy. It was not published till after his retirement.

Upward considered himself a poet, as he had won a poetry prize at Cambridge, but little of his poetry survives. He will be remembered for his prose fiction, particularly his trilogy The Spiral Ascent. He died in 2009 aged 105.

Books about Edward Upward

Peter Stansky: Edward Upward: Art and Life

Other links

Edward Upward (official website)
Edward Upward
A lifetime renegade (profile)
Renegade in springtime (review of Stansky biography)


1928 Journey to the Border (novel)
1962 In the Thirties (novel – Volume 1 of The Spiral Ascent)
1969 The Rotten Elements (novel – Volume 2 of The Spiral Ascent)
1969 The Railway Accident and Other Stories (stories)
1977 No Home But the Struggle (novel – Volume 3 of The Spiral Ascent)
1987 The Night Walk and Other Stories (stories)
1994 The Mortmere Stories (stories – with Christopher Isherwood)
1994 An Unmentionable Man
1997 The Scenic Railway (stories)
1998 Remembering the Earlier Auden
2000 The Coming Day and Other Stories (stories)
2003 A Renegade in Springtime (stories)