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A.E. Housman papers

 Collection
Identifier: BMC-M57

Scope and Contents

The collection is divided into seven sections: Incoming Correspondence, Outgoing Correspondence, Writings, Other Materials, Personal and Family Materials, and Graphic Materials. A.E. Housman materials can also be found in the Laurence Housman Collection. Personal Materials contains various memorabilia belonging to Housman including bookmarks, gifts from his students, and a map of Shropshire. Graphic Materials includes photographs, sketchbooks and loose drawings.

Dates

  • 1859 - 1936

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

This collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

The A.E. Housman papers are the physical property of Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

Biographical / Historical

Alfred Edward Housman, the English poet and classicist, was born on March 26, 1859 near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. He was the elder brother of both Laurence Housman, the celebrated dramatist and Clemence Housman, an illustrator and political activist. When Housman was twelve his mother died from cancer and his father withdrew into alcoholism. Throwing himself into the study of Latin and Greek at the Bromsgrove School, he earned a scholarship to St. John's College, Oxford where his unrequited love for fellow classmate, Moses Jackson, seems to have contributed to his failure to pass his final examinations in 1881.

Despite this academic set-back, Housman did not lose interest in classical languages and continued to study on his own at the British Museum in his spare time while he worked as a patent clerk in London. Several articles he produced during this time on classical poets and playwrights were published in Classical Review and Journal of Philology. He was appointed to the Chair of Greek and Latin at University College, London in 1892.

An increasingly withdrawn and solitary man, Housman began to write the series of poems which was eventually published as A Shropshire Lad in 1896. The collection, which touched on the themes of rural life, the military, death, and unrequited love did not sell well until the eruption of the Second Boer War in 1899. Although war and its effects on British society would help secure Housman's reputation as a poet, he would suffer the losses of his brother, George, in the Boer War and later his nephew, Clement, in World War I.

There was a considerable gap between A Shropshire Lad and his next collection, Last Poems, published in 1922. Housman filled this time with his continued academic studies and teaching. In 1911 he became the professor of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge where he taught for more than 30 years. He focused on Latin poets, particularly Propertius and Ovid. During the years 1903-1930 he devoted himself to a translation of Manilius with commentaries and continued to publish articles on Greek and Latin topics. He gave a famous lecture "The Name and Nature of Poetry" in 1933, which detailed his considered opinions on the subject based on a lifetime of study and practice.

Housman maintained a wry sense of humor and a love for travel and good food throughout his life, including his last years when he was suffering from heart disease. Despite his illness he continued to lecture almost until his death in April of 1936.

For further information see, among other publications:

Graves, Richard Perceval. A.E. Housman, the Scholar-Poet. New York: Scribner, 1980.

Haber, Tom Burns. A.E. Housman. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1967.

Maas, Henry, ed. The Letters of A.E. Housman. London: Hart-Davis, 1971.

Page, Norman. A.E. Housman, a Critical Biography. New York: Schocken Books, 1983.

Extent

12 boxes

Language

English

Overview

Alfred Edward Housman, the English poet and classicist, was born on March 26, 1859 near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. He was appointed to the Chair of Greek and Latin at University College, London in 1892. Housman soon began writing the series of poems which was eventually published as "A Shropshire Lad" in 1896 and later in 1922,"Last Poems" was published. In 1911, he became the professor of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge where he taught for more than 30 years. Housman passed away from heart disease in April of 1936. This collection includes family related materials, notes on his famous lecture "The Name and Nature of Poetry", photographs, general correspondence and writings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was the gift of Seymour Adelman.
Title
A.E. Housman papers
Status
Completed
Author
Alice Goff, Claire Liachowitz, Charles Reed, Amanda Young, Elizabeth Reilly, Melissa Torquato
Date
2007 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Bryn Mawr College Library

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