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Laurence Housman

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Angels And Ministers


By Laurence Housman
Theater , Play

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Laurence Housman

Laurence Housman (1915)
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Laurence Housman (1915)

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

The younger brother of the poet A. E. Housman, Laurence Housman was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. After education at local schools, he went with his sister Clemence to study art at the Lambert 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 Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (1893) and Jane Barlow's The End of Elfintown (1894) in an intricate Art Nouveau style. But he also wrote and published several volumes of poetry in the 1890s, and when his eyesight began to fail, he turned more and more to writing. He lived his last 35 years with his sister in Street, Somerset.

Housman's first 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. 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.

Housman was also a committed socialist and pacifist and founded the Men's League for Women's Suffrage with Henry Nevinson and Henry Brailsford in 1907. A prolific writer with around a hundred published works to his name, his output covers all kinds of literature from socialist and pacifist pamphlets to children's stories. He wrote an autobiography, The Unexpected Years (1937), and edited his brother's posthumous poems.

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 removed to 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, where it is still a prime source of literature on pacifism and other radical approaches to living.



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