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By Norman

Norman web page offers us with an perception into Housman the poet, the student and the man.

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Benson of his youthful adoration of Napoleon III, and that the FrancoPrussian War was a great shock and grief to him (then aged 11). He spoke with contempt of writers as opposed to men of action. * Alfred's earliest lessons had been from a governess (of whom, according to Laurence, he drew caricatures); but soon he was sent to a dame's school in Bromsgrove High Street, whence he proceeded at eleven to Bromsgrove School. The scholarship he won in July 1870 was a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy year, for troubles now came, and came in battalions, to menace the idyllic life of the Housman family.

Father Gerard Manley Hopkins, on the other hand, who during Housman's fourth term moved from the Jesuit church in Farm Street, Mayfair, to the new parish church of St Aloysius, Oxford, saw the hand of change at work in the university city, and for the worse. It was eleven and a half years since Hopkins had completed his time at Balliol, and his saddened awareness of the changes that had taken place is recorded in the sonnet 'Duns Scotus's Oxford': the frame of 'neighbour-nature' in which was set the grey beauty of colleges and churches seemed to him now to be menaced by the 'base and brickish skirt' of suburban building.

As their mother grew worse she became bed-ridden, and Alfred and Clemence spent a good deal of time with her, witnessing the unrecorded drama of her anguish at the thought of the young family she would leave behind. She had written to her friend Mrs Wise to tell her that she would not live to see her children grow up; and seven young children were an awesome responsibility for a man who, as she must have realized by then, was not cut out for quiet heroism. Her mind ran on her girlhood in Woodchesterthat family life, punctuated by frequent bereavements, in the crowded country rectory - and she talked of it to her children, as if anxious to come to terms with her own past or to rescue fragments of it from impending oblivion by giving them a place in their memories.

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