1859-03-26

A.E. HOUSMAN English scholar/poet, born, (d: 1936); Alfred Edward Housman was a classical scholar and poet of note. He was once viewed as a “great grey presence,” divorced from the flesh and married to the mind. Young men read A Shropshire Lad and wondered. Was he or wasn’t he? There was no way to find out.

Later, he was painted as a sad recluse, sighing quiet sighs over a straight friends, Moses Jackson, and jerking off the Muse in unrequited love. In this view, Houseman was “in the grip of the ‘cursed trouble’ that soured the wells of his life, produced his poetry, and urged him to the topmost heights of scholarly renown.

Now we learn that the scholarly Cambridge don, far from being “cursed” used to make merry with a string of Venetian gondoliers supplied by his friend Horatio Brown, and was as well a regular patron of the male brothels in Paris. Can it be that the myth of the scholar virgin is just that, a myth?