Housman Country by
Into the Heart of England

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...in his fine exploration, “Housman Country: Into the Heart of England,” Peter Parker attributes the poet’s popularity to something broader: The “country” of his title is not the Midlands county of Shropshire but England itself.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and Nominated for the 2017 PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography

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

A. E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad made little impression when it was first published in 1896 but has since become one of the best-loved volumes of poetry in the English language. Its evocation of the English coun - tryside, thwarted love, and a yearning for things lost is as potent today as it was more than a century ago, and the book has never been out of print.

In Housman Country, Peter Parker explores the lives of A. E. Housman and his most famous book, and in doing so shows how A Shropshire Lad has permeated English life and culture since its publication. The poems were taken to war by soldiers who wanted to carry England in their pockets, were adapted by composers trying to create a new kind of English music, and have influ - enced poetry, fiction, music, and drama right up to the present day. Everyone has a personal “land of lost content” with “blue remembered hills,” and Housman has been a tangible and far-reaching presence in a startling range of work, from the war poets and Ralph Vaughan Williams to Inspector Morse and Morrissey.

Housman Country is a vivid exploration of England and Englishness, in which Parker maps out terrain that is as historical and emotional as it is topographical.

 

About the Author

Peter Parker was born in Herefordshire and educated in the Malverns, Dorset and London. He is the author of The Last Veteran, The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public-School Ethos and biographies of J.R. Ackerley and Christopher Isherwood . He was an associate editor of The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and writes about books and gardening for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. He lives in London's East End.
 
Published June 20, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 544 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Housman Country
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Apr 10 2017

The author concludes by providing numerous examples of Housman’s and the poems’ appearances in modern culture (Inspector Morse, The Twilight Zone, The Simpsons) as well as the complete text of A Shropshire Lad. Delightful, enchanting, and learned.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Alan Riding on Jul 27 2017

...in his fine exploration, “Housman Country: Into the Heart of England,” Peter Parker attributes the poet’s popularity to something broader: The “country” of his title is not the Midlands county of Shropshire but England itself.

Read Full Review of Housman Country: Into the Hea... | See more reviews from NY Times

The Economist

Good
on Jul 09 2016

...Peter Parker’s new book is much more than a biography, and having lured us into Housman’s life with a magpie’s eye for detail, he then sets out on a tour of Housman Country...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Blake Morrison on Jul 16 2016

...you don’t need a British passport to be allowed in – as Parker shows in his fine study, the borders of Housmanland are uncontrolled and stretch as far as Russia and China.

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