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  You are in: Home > Biography > A. E. Housman  

A. E. Housman
A Single Life

Martin Blocksidge

Martin Blocksidge is a freelance author and biographer. His most recent work, ‘The Banker Poet’: The Rise and Fall of Samuel Rogers, 1763–1855, followed ‘A Life Lived Quickly’: Arthur Hallam and his Legend, described in the Times Literary Supplement as ‘scrupulously fair-minded . . . balanced and believable’. Martin Blocksidge was Head of English at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, and Director of Studies at St. Dunstan’s College, London, and former President of The English Association.


A.E. Housman’s poetry (especially A Shropshire Lad) remains well-known, widely read and often quoted. However, Housman did not view himself as a professional poet, always making quite clear that his ‘proper job’ was as a Professor of Latin. Housman’s fame as a poet has often obscured the fact that he was the leading British classical scholar of his generation, and a Cambridge Professor. It has also sometimes been suggested that Housman’s two areas of activity are the sign of a flawed or ‘divided’ personality. A.E. Housman: A Single Life argues that there is no fundamental tension between Housman the poet and Housman the scholar, and his career is presented very much as that of a working academic who also wrote poetry. The book gives a full account of what Housman described as ‘the great and real troubles of my early manhood’, and in particular his unrequited and life-long love for his undergraduate friend Moses Jackson. It resists the temptation to classify Housman too exclusively as a melancholic, and is sceptical about Housman’s reputed rudeness and misanthropy, pointing out that, though Housman was famously aloof in manner, he was notably loyal and generous, courteous in his daily dealings and generally liked by those who knew him. He also possessed a highly developed sense of the absurd and a ready and often disconcerting wit, features which characterised not only his letters and miscellaneous writings, but also, famously, much of his scholarly work.


Chapter One: ‘My dear Mo’

Chapter Two: ‘Was there ever such an interesting family as we were’

Chapter Three: ‘Oxford had not much effect on me’

Chapter Four: ‘The really emotional part of my life’

Chapter Five: ‘Out of the gutter’

Chapter Six: ‘A better scholar than Wordsworth and a better poet than Porson’

Chapter Seven: ‘An asylum in every sense of the term’

Chapter Eight: ‘In the hopes of dropping dead’


Reviews to follow


Publication Details

Hardback ISBN:
Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
360 pp. / 234 x 156 mm
Release Date:
July 2016
  Illustrated:   Yes
Hardback Price:
£35.00 / $55.00
Paperback Price:
£27.50 / $39.95

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