The Manuscript Poems of A.E. Housman: Eight Hundred Lines of Hitherto Uncollected Verse from the Author’s Notebooks
edited by Tom Burns Haber
University of Minnesota Press, 1955
Paper: 978-0-8166-5780-3


The Manuscript Poems of A.E. Housman was first published in 1955. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Poetry lovers everywhere, and devotees of A. E. Housman in particular, will recognize a major literary event in the publication of this volume, for it makes available for the first time some 800 lines of hitherto unpublished poetry by the well-loved author of A Shropshire Lad. This is a significant addition to the Housman treasury because the English poet published a total of only 2216 lines of poetry during his lifetime.

Dr. Haber has drawn the material for this volume from the four Housman notebooks in the Library of Congress, where they were deposited in 1940, four years after the poet's death. In an introductory section the editor describes the notebooks themselves and tells in detail the fascinating story of how the manuscripts—erased, canceled and glued fast to mounting sheets — were preserved and deciphered. The notebooks, dated from 1890 to 1925, contain the most valuable manuscript remains of Housman's poetic writings.

In the material that is published here for the first time there are included complete poems, fragments of poems, and abandoned lines and stanzas from well-known lyrics. In addition the editor has provided a list of variants which the poet inserted into his printers' copies of A Shropshire Lad and Last Poems.

Among the newly published complete poems are some that Dr. Haber believes should be ranked with Housman's outstanding work. In the material that shows the poet's revisions of his own writings, the reader is afforded an intimate glimpse into the creative processes of a poetic genius, a privilege that will be especially appreciated by students and critics. Many explanatory notes are appended to show how Housman's poetry matured from first draft, through final copy, to the printed page.

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