Book Cover of Laurence Housman


Lifetime: 1865 - 1959 Passed: ≈ 65 years ago


Playwright, Writer



Laurence Housman

Laurence Housman was an English playwright, writer and illustrator during the Victorian era. He studied art in London. He was a younger brother of the poet A. E. Housman.

Laurence Housman was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, one of seven children including an older brother and sister, the classical scholar and poet A. E. Housman and the writer Clemence Housman. In 1871 his mother died, and his father remarried, to a cousin. After education at Bromsgrove School, he went with his sister Clemence to study art at the Lambeth School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London.

Housman turned more and more to writing after his eyesight began to fail. His first literary 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. Housman's play, Pains and Penalties, about Queen Caroline, was produced by Edith Craig and the Pioneer Players.

Some of Housman's plays were scandalous for depicting biblical characters and living members of the Royal House on stage, and many of them were performed only privately until the subsequent relaxation of theatrical censorship. In 1937 the Lord Chamberlain ruled that no British sovereign may be portrayed on the stage until 100 years after his or her accession. For this reason, Victoria Regina could not be staged until the centenary of Queen Victoria's accession, 20 June 1937. This was a Sunday, so the premiere took place the next day.

Housman also wrote children's fairy tales such as A Farm in Fairyland (1894) and fantasy stories with Christian undertones for adults, such as All-Fellows (1896), The Cloak of Friendship (1905), and Gods and Their Makers (1897).

Books by Laurence Housman

An Englishwoman's Love-Letters Cover image

An Englishwoman's Love-Letters

Family Relationships

An Englishwoman's Love-letters is a 1900 novel by Laurence Housman, initially published anonymously. It was a scandal in its time due to its frankness, which excitement turned to disappointment as the public learned the author was no Englishwoman but...