Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 10:01 UK
A E Housman's 150th anniversary

The poet and classical scholar Alfred Edward Housman was born in Fockbury, near Bromsgrove, in Worcestershire on 26 March 1859.

The oldest of seven children, his father was a solicitor, while his mother died on his 12th birthday.

AE Housman's brother Laurence and sister Clemence also became writers.

Housman was educated at King Edward's School in Birmingham and later Bromsgrove School where he started to make a name for himself as a poet.

It was there that he started to make a name for himself as a poet, winning a number of prizes.

Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun are the quietest places under the sun
A E Housman

He won a scholarship to Oxford in 1877, but he ended up leaving without a degree, after his father was taken ill a few days before the final exams. He returned to Oxford the following year and was awarded a pass degree.

Housman worked for a time in a patent office in London, pursing his classical studies in his spare time. It was on the strength of the articles he managed to get published, that he was appointed Professor of Latin at University College, London in 1892.

A Shropshire Lad

A Shropshire Lad is Housman's most famous work. It is a cycle, or series, of 63 poems, which are predominantly about death and an almost arcadian idyll. Housman wrote the poems while living in London, apparently before ever visiting Shropshire.

According to The Housman Society: "A Shropshire Lad is born out of the troubles Housman suffered during his life... set in a half-imaginary Shropshire, a 'land of lost content'... 'those blue remembered hills.'"

Initially, several publishers turned him down, resulting in him having to publish the poems at his own expense in 1896. It's been in print ever since.

In 1911, Housman became Professor of Latin at Cambridge University, where he remained until his death on 30 April 1936.

His long-awaited second volume of verse, Last Poems, was published in 1922 and after his death his brother Laurence was responsible for the posthumous publication of More Poems and Additional Poems.

Housman's ashes are buried at St Laurence's Church in Ludlow.

Anniversary events

A new edition of A Shropshire Lad is being launched. The new publication includes pictures from across Shropshire, taken by local photographer Gareth Thomas.

On 2 July at 7.30pm, at St Laurence's Church, leading lyric tenor, James Gilchrist and the Schubert Ensemble will perform two song cycles inspired by Housman's poetry. There will also be pieces by Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Ivor Gurney.


Readings of A Shropshire Lad are taking place at Acton Scott Historic Farm near Church Stretton on 13 June and other dates throughout the summer.

Walks and Tours

This summer's 50th Ludlow Festival, 20 June to 5 July, includes a coach tour to Bredon Hill, which is the title of one the Shropshire Lad poems.

A Walk in Housman Country is planned for 5 July, meeting in the car park by Clun Bridge at 10am. David and Marjorie Cashmore will lead a walk to the top of Bury Ditches, followed by lunch at a local pub and a Clun Heritage Trail in the afternoon.


There's an Exhibition of Paintings by Graham and Anne Arnold, including new work inspired by Housman's poetry. It's taking place at the Silk Top Hat Gallery in Ludlow from the 22 June to 18 July.


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