The Ascent of F6

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First UK edition

The Ascent of F6: A Tragedy in Two Acts, by W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, was the second play in the Auden-Isherwood collaboration, first published in 1936. It was a major contribution to English poetic drama in the 1930s.

The play tells the story of Michael Ransom, a climber, who, against his better judgement, accepts the offer of the British press and government to sponsor an expedition to the peak of F6, a mountain on the border of a British colony and a colony of the fictional country of Ostnia. Ransom is destroyed by his haste to complete the expedition ahead of the Ostnian climbers. The play is widely regarded as an allegory of Auden's own temptation to be a public figure; this interpretation was first offered by R. G. Collingwood in The Principles of Art (1938),

The play was published in three slightly different versions: the first English edition in 1936, the American edition in 1937, and a second English edition in 1937.

The play is dedicated to Auden's geologist brother John Bicknell Auden who had taken part in an expedition near[citation needed] the Himalayan mountain K2.


  • Auden, W. H., and Christopher Isherwood. Plays and other dramatic writings by W. H. Auden, 1928-1939, ed. by Edward Mendelson (1988).