Housman Country Into the Heart of England

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2017-06-20
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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A captivating exploration of A. E. Housman and the influence of his particular brand of Englishness

“He is a strange phenomenon,” Ted Hughes wrote of A. E. Housman, “but to my mind the most perfect expression of a whole mood of English history—a true master.” Housman—classical scholar and poet—is best known for the collection A Shropshire Lad. When the book was published in 1896, it made little impact, but it has since become one of the best-loved volumes of poetry in the English language. An evocation of English character and countryside, A Shropshire Lad remains as potent today as it was more than a century ago.

Housman Country is an account of the life and times of A Shropshire Lad. In this absorbing volume, Peter Parker investigates the particular English sensibility that imbues Housman’s verse. A believer in the power of poetry to both provide pleasure and harmonize grief, Housman was a romantic—though a romantic of a doom-laden English variety. Deftly intertwining literary analysis, biography, and cultural history, Parker shows that these poems were not only far-reaching—carried into battle by World War I soldiers and set to music by twentieth-century composers—but also deeply communal, shaping notions of English national identity.

Mapping out a terrain that is as literary as it is historical, Parker animates the fascinating personality of a man who produced one of England’s most influential works of literature.

Author Biography

Peter Parker was born in Herefordshire and was educated in the Malverns, Dorset, and London. He is the author ofThe Old Lie: The Great War and the Public-School Ethos and biographies of J. R. Ackerley and Christopher Isherwood. He edited The Reader’s Companion to the Twentieth-Century Novel and The Reader’s Companion to Twentieth-Century Writers, and was an associate editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He writes about books and gardening for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines and lives in London’s East End.

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