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A. L. Rowse (Alfred Leslie Rowse) Biography

(1903–1997), (Alfred Leslie Rowse), Poems of a Decade: 1931–1941, Poems of Deliverance

poems oxford shakespeare cornwall

British poet and historian, born at St Austell, Cornwall, educated at Christ Church, Oxford. From 1925 to 1974 he was a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Rowse's remark that ‘Places speak to me rather than people and are apt to mean more to me’ indicates the emphatically local quality of much of his poetry, which draws widely on the landscapes of Cornwall and Oxford (see topographical poetry). His numerous collections of verse include Poems of a Decade: 1931–1941 (1941), Poems of Deliverance (1946), Poems of Cornwall and America (1967), and The Road to Oxford (1978); A Life: Collected Poems appeared in 1981, followed by the Selected Poems of 1990. The tension between faith and doubt in much of his verse and his accomplished use of traditional forms give his work affinities with that of Sir John Betjeman, whom he admired. His range extends from ballads of disarming simplicity to poetry of challenging intellectual rigour. Rowse wrote prolifically on the history and literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; his works, which have frequently provoked controversy, include The England of Elizabeth (1950), William Shakespeare: A Biography (1963), Milton the Puritan (1977), and Four Caroline Portraits (1993). The Annotated Shakespeare (3 volumes, 1978) and The Sayings of Shakespeare (1993) are among his works as an editor. Among his other publications are the autobiographical works A Cornish Childhood (1942), All Souls in My Time (1993), and Histories I Have Known (1995). His critical biographies include The Poet Auden (1987) and Quiller-Couch, a Portrait of ‘Q’ (1988).

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