A. E. Housman: A Critical Biography by Norman

By Norman

Norman web page presents us with an perception into Housman the poet, the coed and the man.

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Extra resources for A. E. Housman: A Critical Biography

Sample text

Sent to the Wises at Woodchester, he received there, among the scenes of his mother's early life, the news of her death on 26 March l87l. The letter also told him of her dying request that he should not lose his religious faith. One can only speculate why she felt this needed saying, but the communication of it by her widower could have been more tactfully timed. Her plea adds great poignancy to her son's declaration, when he himself was near death, that 'I became a deist at thirteen'. * 1t fell to the Wises to comfort the boy amid their own grief, for Mrs Wise was an old friend of Sarah Housman.

He must have been told this informally, for his name makes no appearance on the official announcement. No undergraduate of StJohn's had carried off the Hertford during that decade, and Housman must have known the form and have been wryly conscious of his own college's reputation. At any rate, he seems to have been reasonably gratified by the result, his letter making the scrupulous distinction that it was 'better than anyone else thought I should do, and better than I myself fancied I had actually done'.

He was also writing: in his second year he contributed frequently to an undergraduate periodical, Ye Rounde Table, * under the pseudonym of 'Tristram', and later he published two poems in another Oxford magazine, Waifs and Strays, edited by Wilde's friend Harold Boulton. Both were signed with his initials, and though he did not see fit to republish them, one of them, 'Parta Quies', is one ofthe best poems he ever wrote. In their fourth year ( 1880-1), Jackson and Pollard and Housman all moved out of college and took five rooms in 'a picturesque old house in St Giles' nearly opposite the college and now swept away'.

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