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Laurence Housman (July 18, 1865 - February 20, 1959)

Laurence Housman (18 July 1865 - 20 February 1959) was an English playwright, writer and illustrator.

Laurence Housman was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, one of seven children who included the poet A. E. Housman and writer Clemence Housman. In 1871 his mother died, and his father remarried, to a cousin. After education at Bromsgrove School, he went with his sister Clemence to study art at the Lambeth School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London.

He first worked as a book illustrator with London publishers, illustrating such works as George Meredith's Jump to Glory Jane (1892), Jonas Lie's Weird Tales (1892), Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (1893), Jane Barlow's The End of Elfintown (1894) and his sister's Werewolf (1896) in an intricate Art Nouveau style. During this period, he also wrote and published several volumes of poetry and a number of hymns and carols.

When his eyesight began to fail, he turned more and more to writing. Housman's first literary success came with the novel An Englishwoman's Love-letters (1900), published anonymously. He then turned to drama with Bethlehem (1902) and was to become best known and remembered as a playwright. His other dramatic works include Angels and Ministers (1921), Little Plays of St. Francis (1922) and Victoria Regina (1934) which was even staged on Broadway. Housman's play, Pains and Penalties, about Queen Caroline, was produced by Edith Craig and the Pioneer Players.

Some of Housman's plays caused scandals because of depiction of biblical characters and living members of the Royal House on stage, and many of them were only played privately until the subsequent relaxation of theatrical censorship. In 1937 the Lord Chamberlain ruled that no British sovereign may be portrayed on the stage until 100 years after his or her accession. For this reason, Victoria Regina could not be staged until the centenary of Queen Victoria's accession, 20 June 1937. This was a Sunday, so the premiere took place the next day.


The House of Joy

Housman also wrote children's fairy tales such as A Farm in Fairyland (1894) and fantasy stories with Christian undertones for adults, such as All-Fellows (1896), The Cloak of Friendship (1905), and Gods and Their Makers (1897).

A prolific writer with around a hundred published works to his name, his output eventually covered all kinds of literature from socialist and pacifist pamphlets to children's stories. He wrote an autobiography, The Unexpected Years (1937), which, despite his record of controversial writing, said little about his homosexuality. He also edited his brother's posthumous poems.

Housman held what for the time were controversial political views. He was a committed socialist and pacifist and founded the Men's League for Women's Suffrage with Henry Nevinson and Henry Brailsford in 1907. He was also a member of the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology and the Order of Chaeronea.

In 1909, Laurence, with his sister Clemence founded the Suffrage Atelier, an arts and crafts society who worked closely with the Women's Social and Political Union and Women's Freedom League. They encouraged non-professional artists to submit work, and paid them a small percentage of the profits.

In 1945 he opened Housmans Bookshop in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, founded in his honour by the Peace Pledge Union, of which he was a sponsor. In 1959, shortly after his death, the shop moved to 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, where it is still a prime source of literature on pacifism and other radical approaches to living.

Housman lived his last 35 years with his sister in Street, Somerset.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Housman




Blue Moon


Come Buy, Illustration for Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market, Macmillan & Co., 1892


Mercury Good of Merchandise Look on with Favourable Eyes, Illustration for Housman's's The Field of Clover, 1898


The Building, Illustration for Barlow's The End of Elfintown, 1894


The End of Elfin Town


The Flitting, Illustration for Barlow's The End of Elfintown, 1894


The West Wind

Further Readings:

Suffrage Days: Stories from the Women's Suffrage Movement by Stanley Holton
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Routledge (September 8, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0415109426
ISBN-13: 978-0415109420
Amazon: Suffrage Days: Stories from the Women's Suffrage Movement

This is a history of the suffrage movement in Britain from the beginnings of the first sustained campaign in the 1860s to the winning of the vote for women in 1918. The book focuses on a number of figures whose role in this agitation has been ignored or neglected. These include the free-thinker Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy; the founder of the women's movement in the United States, Elizabeth Cady Stanton; the working class orator, Jessie Craigen; and the socialist suffragists, Hannah Mitchell and Mary Gawthorpe. Through the lives of these figures Holton uncovers the complex origins of the movement and associated issues of gender.

Friends and Apostles: The Correspondence of Rupert Brooke and James Strachey, 1905-1914 by Keith Hale
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (December 11, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0300070047
ISBN-13: 978-0300070040
Amazon: Friends and Apostles: The Correspondence of Rupert Brooke and James Strachey, 1905-1914

The correspondance between the poet Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) and his friend James Strachey, later the primary English translator of the works of Sigmund Freud, here appears in print for the first time. These various letters - often irreverent, sometimes humorous, and so revealing that Brook's literary executors long resisted their publication, illuminate one of the last pieces of the complex puzzle of Brooke's life. Brooke wrote more frequently to Strachey than to anyone other than his mother, and was more candid than in letters to others in which he often assumed a variety of carefully constructed poses. Friends from boyhood, Brooke and Strachey were undergraduates at Cambridge when James fell in love with his handsome, charming companion. As well as their shared interest in politics, literature, art, and theatre, the letters deal often and explicitly with the subject of homosexuality and with the sometimes scandalous activities of many of their close circle. Brook and Strachey compare observations of fellow members of the exclusive Cambridge "Apostles", of mutual Bloomsbury friends, and of such fellow Fabian Socialists as Hugh Grant and Beatrice Webb. The correspondance provides biographical, psychological and cultural insights into Rupert Brooke and his poetry, and reveals the complexities of the man behind the heroic legend that his early death inspired.

London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914 (Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture) by Matt Cook
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (November 6, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0521089808
ISBN-13: 978-0521089807
Amazon: London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914

Matt Cook explores the relationship between London and homosexuality from 1885 to 1914, years marked by intensification in concern about male-male relationships and also by the emergence of an embryonic homosexual rights movement. Cook combines his coverage of London's homosexual subculture and various major and minor scandals with a detailed examination of representations in the press, science and literature. This conjunction of approaches distinguishes this study from other works and provides new insight into the development of ideas about homosexuality during the period.

More Artists at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art


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Tags: art, author: laurence housman, gay classics
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