Learn the secrets behind AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad

Fans of AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad can learn the secrets behind the famous poetry collection and its author.

Biographer Peter Parker, who appeared at this year’s Hay Festival, will be in Shrewsbury on October 12 to talk about his latest work, Housman Country: Into The Heart of England. The book has received rave national reviews since it was published in the summer.

His talk, which will be held at St Alkmund’s Church, St Alkmunds Square, at 7.30pm, will give an insight into how A Shropshire Lad came to be written, the life of Alfred Edward Housman and why the book has had an enduring influence on English culture and the very notion of Englishness.

The collection of 63 poems has become one of the most popular books of poetry ever written, but it made little impact when it was first published in 1896 by the hitherto unknown Housman – a 37-year-old professor of Latin at University College, London.

Housman was obliged to contribute £30 towards its initial run of 500 copies, but it later went on to become a publishing sensation and one of the most influential works in English literature. It has never been out of print in its entire 120-year history.

But Housman was not a Shropshire lad at all. He was born just outside Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, and it was the Shropshire hills, seen on his western horizon, which influenced his imagination.  

The talk has been organised by Susan Caroline, of Pengwern Books. She said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the man and the ideas behind this famous poetry collection.

“It seemed fitting to invite Peter Parker to come and talk about his new book, Housman Country, in the actual county that inspired the poems at the heart of this work.”

Tickets for the talk, which are £10 and £6 for under 21s, are available from Pengwern Books, Fish Street, on 01743 232236 or by emailing pengwernbooks@live.co.uk

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