The Life Of A. E. Housman

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The Life of A.E. Housman Written by Tonya Bliss (A.)lfred (E.)dward Housman is one of the very few English scholars to attain a European stature and the only one who is also a poet of consequence. A.E. Housman is famous for such works as An Athlete Dying Young, Because I Liked You Better, and He Would Not Stay For Me, but the piece that introduced Housman to the poetic society was A Shropshire Lad written in 1896 and became hugely popular during World War I and is now the work for which Housman is chiefly remembered, although he did not strike gold with this publication.

Shropshire was never his home but the Hills had formed the Western horizon of his childhood. Housman was born March 26, 1859, near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire1. He was the eldest of seven children. His father was an attorney, but not quite successful with law and eventually lost his practice to illness which had a great influence on the lack of interest Housman provided to his education.

His mother's family was connected with the Drakes of Devon who's motto was Aquila non capit muscas"¦(The eagle does not catch flies)2. This motto is quite relevant to the success of Housman unfortunately because he did not possess the exuberant habits that other famous writers flaunted. He did not profit from his works while he was alive to do so, but now there always a print available of his work in any public library.

Housman was educated at Bromsgrove School and won a scholarship to St. Johns College, in Oxford3. His ambition to provide the literary world a personal view of life as a qualified scholar starved his desire to indulge in any other subject mandated to graduate with the proper credentials. It took almost twelve years for...