Author: A.E. Housman
Description: Alfred Edward (A.E.) Housman was a noted classical scholar and a poet. To the wider public he is best known for his poem “A Shropshire Lad” (1896), while to his fellow classicists it is his critical editing of Manilius that has earned him enduring fame.
Housman was born on March 26, 1859 in Fockbury, Worcestershire, England, the eldest of seven children. A gifted student Housman won a scholarship to Oxford where he performed well, but failed to gain a degree, due to his neglect, for various reasons, of subjects that did not pique his interest (philosophy, and ancient history). Frustrated he gained at job as a patent clerk, but continued his research in the classical studies, publishing a variety of well regarded papers. After a decade his reputation was such that he was able to obtain a position at University College London (1992). In 1911 he took the Kennedy Professorship of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he remained for the rest of his life.
As a scholar Housman concentrated on Latin. His work on Manilus’ “Astronomica”, between 1903-30, where he published a five volume critical edition, is the definitive text. Housman the poet produced lyrics that express a Romantic pessimism in a spare, simple style. Some of the asperity and directness that appears in Housman’s lyrics also is found in his scholarship, in which he defended common sense with a sarcastic wit that helped to make him widely feared.
There are several biographies of Housman, and a The Housman Society http://www.housman-society.co.uk/
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