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A. E. Housman (Alfred Edward Housman) Biography

(1859–1936), (Alfred Edward Housman), A Shropshire Lad, Last Poems, Praefanda, The Name and Nature of Poetry

British poet, born near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, educated at St John's College, Oxford, where, for reasons which remain unclear, he failed his final examinations. During the ten years of his subsequent employment in the Patents Office in London he published papers on Propertius, Juvenal, Ovid, and other classical authors, establishing the reputation that gained him the Chair of Greek and Latin at University College, London, in 1892. He became Kennedy Professor of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1911. The most substantial of his works of textual scholarship was his edition of Manilius, which appeared in five volumes between 1903 and 1930. Housman appears to have intensified his very private practice of poetry after the departure of his intimate friend Moses Jackson for India in 1887. A Shropshire Lad, published at his own expense in 1896, gradually drew wide critical acclaim. Successive commercial editions were printed and by 1912 Housman was widely known. The Georgian Poets venerated him as the progenitor of their predominantly rural mode. In 1922 he published Last Poems, a series of forty-one verses sustaining his pessimistic lyricism. Praefanda (1931), his miscellany of obscene passages from Latin sources with an ironically erudite introduction, was published in Germany. Apart from his more orthodox writings on classical authors, he published only one other work in his lifetime, the text of his Cambridge lecture The Name and Nature of Poetry (1933), which declared poetry to be ‘physical rather than intellectual’ in origin. The posthumous More Poems (1936) was supplemented by eighteen further poems in A. E. H. (1937) by his brother Laurence Housman. Christopher Ricks's edition of Housman's Collected Poems and Selected Prose was published in 1988. A. E. Housman: The Scholar Poet (1979) is a biographical study by R. P. Graves.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Honest Ulsterman to Douglas Hyde Biography