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By Norman

A.E. Housman (1859-1936) was once a poet of huge reputation and common effect: a Latin pupil of front rank, a very good prose stylist, a extraordinary author of comedian verse and, due to the large luck of A Shropshire Lad, one of many maximum and best-known poems within the English language, he grew to become a legend in his personal lifetime. Reissued to mark the centenary of the book of A Shropshire Lad, Norman Page's highly-acclaimed biography is considered the main whole account of Housman's existence and occupation to be had. Drawing on quite a lot of resources, together with a lot unpublished fabric, Norman web page presents us with a desirable perception into Housman the poet, the coed and the fellow. `By a long way the simplest biography of Housman we've ... ' - Andrew movement, occasions Literary Supplement

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His decision was to have far-reaching results. At this period the University was at an early stage of transition 36 A. E. Housman: A Critical Biography between the exclusively college-based teaching of the past and the fully developed system of university teaching oflater generations. Apart from his contact with Warren, Housman would have received his instruction mainly from the limited resources of his own college. It is true that 'combined college lectures' had already been instituted as the first step in the changeover to a system of university teaching; but Stjohn's did not participate in these until Housman's final year, and he would consequently have been ineligible to attend them.

Housman's ancestry, appropriately enough for one who spent most of his working life scrutinizing texts and settling points of dispute. He was descended from prominent members of provincial society who inherited, and in due course bequeathed, substantial amounts of capital and who lived, in that age oflarge houses and cheap servants, in a style of unostentatious dignity. An odd feature of their family history was a fluctuation between philoprogenitiveness and an unwillingness or inability to propagate their kind; by a curious coincidence, Alfred's grandfathers both sired twelve children, of whom on each side only one left descendants, and in his own generation all but one of his father's large family were to die without issue.

Both views, that of Wilde and that of Hopkins, had some truth in them. By comparison with the modern city, in which dreaming spires fight a losing battle with chain stores and tourists, Housman's Oxford was still enviably small and quiet and unspoilt. Undergraduate dress and the minor rituals of daily life 29 30 A. E. Housman: A Critical Biography retained a formality that makes the students of 1880 and the 1990s seem like different species. Sir Charles Oman, who went up to New College in 1878, recalled that 'on Sunday no self-respecting man would have dreamed of appearing in anything but a black coat and tall hat', and 'whiskers were largely worn', the favourite style being the mutton-chop.

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