The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Laurence Housman

1865 - 1959

Writer and playwright, born July 18, 1865 in Bromsgrove, Hereford and Worcester, WC England, UK, the brother of A E (Alfred Edward) Housman. He studied art at the Lambeth School of Art and the Royal College of Art, and attracted attention by his illustrations of Meredith's poem, "Jump-to-Glory Jane'. He is perhaps best known as the illustrator and designer of such works as Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (1893), Jane Barlow's The End of Elfintown (8194), and his own Green Arras (1896). These works, with their intricate Art Nouveau illustrations and bindings, establish him as a worthy successor of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite tradition. Together with Charles Ricketts, he ushered in a new era of publishers' bindings, and his stylistic influence was greatest on commercial publishing. Other well-known works include The Sensitive Plant (1898) and The Blue Moon (1904).

After his eyesight began to fail he turned to writing books and plays. He wrote eighty books during his lifetime including his Little Plays of St Francis (1922) and his Victorian biographical "chamber plays," such as Angels and Ministers (1921) and Victoria Regina (1937). He often seemed to fall afoul of the censors on religious or political grounds. Even his great success Victoria Regina was kept off the London stage for three years, until in 1937 the British lifted their ban on plays portraying the royal family. In the hiatus, it stormed Broadway, establishing Helen Hayes as a star of the first rank.

A committed socialist and pacifist, in 1907, he joined with Henry Nevinson and Henry Brailsford to form the Men's League for Women's Sufferage. He was also an honorary male associate of the Women Writers Suffrage League.

His autobiography, The Unexpected Years (1937), reveals a romantic Victorian figure, a Conservative radical who espoused pacificism and votes for women. In 1937, he also published A. E. H.: Some Poems, Some Letters and a Personal Memoir by His Brother.

Housman died in 1959.

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