A.E. Housman: A Man of Lost Content

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Peter Waine's next book (available from April 2021) is a full-length hard cover study on the much loved poet and classicist A.E. Housman, including all his poems and illustrated with woodcuts which, in turn, depict the many ways his poems have been interpreted for almost a century.

A.E. Housman: A Man of Lost Contentwill look at this enigmatic person, our greatest classicist who penned some of the loveliest poetry ever written.  Despite the relative paucity of his poetic output - his collection, A Shropshire Lad, has never been out of print- he was offered the Poet Laureateship and the  Order of Merit, but declined both.

Housman could be kind and unkind, friendly and rude, gregarious and painfully silent, a recluse and a bon-viveur. He believed that life was dreadful and death welcome, but also that death ended one's enjoyment of cherry trees and of the English countryside; a gourmet who lived frugally, a traditionalist who loved to fly to France in the dangerous days of pioneering aviation.

He lost his religious faith at 13 but he still acquired an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible which he used extensively in his poems. He never wished to be regarded as a war poet, but his verse lent solace to the bereaved in two world wars. Many of the most eminent contemporary composers attempted to put his poems to music but in Housman's eyes, at least, most failed.

He was homosexual but almost certainly a repressed one. His emotional life was over by the time he was 30 and the subject of his affection was neither a homosexual nor even aware of the effect he had had on Housman.

He failed his Finals but still became Professor of Latin at both University College, London and Kennedy Professor of Latin at Cambridge. 

Despite being regarded as our greatest classicist he devoted 27 years to translating a Latin poet of the third rank whom Housman himself summed up as ' facile and frivolous. Regarded as an intellectual machine and with the tools afforded him by his mastery of great prose, Housman took up the challenge of textual criticism, rectifying in his mind the hitherto poor classical scholarship of his contemporaries and of those who preceded him.

The author advocates a reason for these strange paradoxes, a theory not propounded before...

Peter is an established campaigner and author for the countryside, having been national chairman of CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England), and also a former chairman of the Tree Council and of the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, in addition to being a trustee of Red List Revival and a director of Julia Bradbury's Outdoor Guide. He was a judge on the Wainwright Literary Prize which celebrates the best books about nature and UK travel. He is on the board of The Gardens Trust, the statutory consultee for registered parks and gardens.

​Peter is a former member of the International Cricket Council and Trustee of the Royal Opera House.

​He is co-author of 22 Ideas That Saved The English Countryside, an acknowledged work on the campaigns that helped to protect the English countryside over the last 150 years, author of As I Go A Wandering, a book on the countryside with poetry by him and pictures he painted. Peter 's poetry collection Under A Passing Skyhas a strong following. He has also written or co-authored two business books The Board Game and The Independent Board Director as well as a business novel Takeover translated into six languages and in the Top Ten best seller's list.

​Peter is Chairman of The Housman Society.