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Fried in 1981
Fried in 1981

Erich Fried (6 May 1921 – 22 November 1988) was an Austrian-born poet, writer and translator. He initially became known to a broader public in both Germany and Austria for his political poetry, and later for his love poems. As a writer he mostly wrote plays and short novels. He also translated works by different English writers from English into German, most notably works by William Shakespeare.

He was born in Vienna, Austria, but fled to England after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938. He settled in London and adopted British Nationality in 1949. His first official visit back to Vienna was in 1962.


Born to Jewish parents Nelly and Hugo Fried in Vienna, he was a child actor and from an early age wrote strongly political essays and poetry. He fled to London after his father was murdered by the Gestapo after the Anschluss with Nazi Germany. During the war, he did casual work as a librarian and a factory hand. He arranged also for his mother to leave Nazi occupied Austria, as well as helping many other Jews to come to the UK. He joined Young Austria, a left-wing emigrant youth movement, but left in 1943 in protest of its growing Stalinist tendencies. In 1944 he married Maria Marburg, shortly before the birth of his son Hans. In the same year his first volume of poetry was published. He separated from Maria in 1946, and they divorced in 1952. In the same year he married Nan Spence Eichner, with whom he had two children; David (b. 1958) and Katherine (b. 1961). Erich and Nan divorced in 1965. In 1965 he married for a third time, wedding Catherine Boswell with whom he had three children; Petra (b. 1965), Klaus and Thomas (b. 1969).

From 1952 to 1968 he worked as a political commentator for the BBC German Service. He translated works by Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas. In 1962 he returned to Vienna for the first time.

He published several volumes of poetry as well as radio plays and a novel. His work was sometimes controversial, including attacks on the Zionist movement and support for left-wing causes. His work was mainly published in the West, but in 1969, a selection of his poetry was published in the GDR poetry series Poesiealbum, and his Dylan Thomas translations were published in that same series in 1974. The composer Hans Werner Henze set two of Fried's poems for his song-cycle Voices (1973).

In 1982 he regained his Austrian nationality, though he also retained the British nationality he had adopted in 1949. He died of intestinal cancer in Baden-Baden, West Germany, in 1988 and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

An Austrian literary prize is named after him – the Erich Fried Prize.


Translations of Erich Fried's Works into English

There are as well translations of single poems in different anthologies.


  1. ^ Bibliography of Erich Fried's Works (German), pp. 100–107