W. H. Auden, who attended Tolkien's lectures as an undergraduate, was also an occasional correspondent and was on friendly terms with Tolkien from the mid-1950s until Tolkien's death, initiated by Auden's fascination with The Lord of the Rings. Auden was among the most prominent early critics to praise the work. Tolkien wrote in a 1971 letter:
"I am [...] very deeply in Auden's debt in recent years. His support of me and interest in my work has been one of my chief encouragements. He gave me very good reviews, notices and letters from the beginning when it was by no means a popular thing to do. He was, in fact, sneered at for it".
W.H. Auden, one of Charles Williams greatest admirers, reportedly re-read Williams’s extraordinary and highly unconventional history of the church, Descent of the Dove(1939), every year.