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W.H. Auden
Paperback Writers: Sunlight and shadow in 'Los Angeles in the 1930s'
Paperback Writers: Sunlight and shadow in 'Los Angeles in the 1930s'

Created by FDR in 1935, in the depths of the Great Depression, the Federal Writers' Project (a small part of the wider Works Progress Administration) was a make-work agency that gave jobs to about 6,500 writers, editors and researchers before closing shop in 1943. The government, in other words, used taxpayers' money to pay small but welcome salaries to writers. Go figure. "A triumphant gesture and so noble as to be almost absurd," said poet W.H. Auden (not a beneficiary), and one imagines the swirl of teapot tempests that an attempt to repeat such a quixotic project would induce today. Yet the writers' project played its part in the careers of Saul Bellow, Nelson...

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