Invention of Love Study Guide

Act Two



Katharine Housman Symons

(1862-1945) The youngest girl of the seven Housman children. She was author of a history of King Edward’s School, Bath, and several published sketches about AEH. She and AEH were always close and after he returned from Oxford in disgrace, Katharine accepted him back the most warmly without wishing to know the full details of why he had not passed his exams. Picture of Kate.

Gilead … Dan … Naphtali … Ephraim … Manasseh … Judah

The lands that Moses was able to see from the top of Mount Pisgah. Deuteronomy 34:1-3: "And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar."

Clemence A. Housman

(1861-1955) Noted artist, novelist and suffragette, the older of AEH’s two sisters. After AEH’s return home from Oxford she was still at home and working as her father’s secretary in his solicitor’s office. She knew exactly how little business came to her father and helped to stretch the family’s money by working around the house helping with the cooking and housework. She later went to London with Laurence to attend art school during the time AEH was at the patent office.

Mr. Herbert Millington

(1841-1922) Headmaster at King Edward VI Grammar School, Bromsgrove. He became headmaster just three years after AEH won a scholarship to attend. Millington would be a source of friendship throughout AEH’s life, giving him a job after he failed at Oxford and writing a letter of support for his post at University College, London, and even defending him in print in an 1888 article in the Journal of Education.

Sixth Form

A form is essentially equivalent to an American grade in school, but the first form does not actually begin until one is about 11 or 12.

Basil Williams Housman

(1864-1931) AEH’s younger brother by five years. He was a doctor of medicine. After Basil declined in health, AEH took a particular interest in visiting his brother and his wife, Jeannie.

‘Bunthorne’ in Patience

The "Fleshly Poet" in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience or Bunthorne’s Bride in which the hero, a caricature of Oscar Wilde, is pursued by a whole troop of love-sick ladies.


A person who is disdainful of intellectual and artistic knowledge.


Piccadilly Circus is a busy London square (originally a circle) at the intersection of four main streets. It is a popular meeting place for the fashionable.

Journal of Philology

A journal dedicated to linguistics. AEH published "Horatiana" in the journal in 1882.

D’Oyly Carte

(1844-1901) The illustrious impresario who produced and promoted Gilbert and Sullivan’s shows. His Savoy Theatre, opened in 1881, was the first theater in London to have the new incandescent electric lamp invented by Thomas Edison just two years before.

in esse et in posse

Latin, meaning "in existence and in possibility."


The first scholarly article AEH published after leaving Oxford (1882). It was given little notice by the academic world.


An illustrated London periodical published from 1841-1992, with a revival in 1996, known for its satiric humor and wry cartoons.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

(1809-1892) English Victorian poet. His poetry epitomized the Victorian era and exhibited a masterful command of language infused with feeling.

Henry Labouchere

(1831-1912) British politician and journalist, nicknamed "Labby." His chronicle of the Siege of Paris (1870-71) brought him journalistic fame and the fortune he inherited propelled him into public life. After serving from 1854-64 in the diplomatic corps, he was in the House of Commons (1865, 1867-68, as a Liberal, and 1880-1906 as a Radical). He wanted the abolition of the House of Lords and opposed the imperialist attitude that brought on the South African War in 1899. More.

Frank Harris

(1856-1931) Irish-born, American-educated journalist. He came to the United States when he was 15, eventually taking a law degree from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He was a highly talented editor who sometimes exploited his own talents by publishing scandal sheets. His autobiography, My Life and Loves, scandalous at its time for its sexual frankness, is notorious for its unreliable facts. He edited many journals after he returned to England, hiring such writers as George Bernard Shaw for the Saturday Review (1894-98). In 1922 he moved to Nice, France, where he died. His works include Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions (1916) and a biography of Shaw (1931). More.

W.T. Stead

(1849-1912) British journalist, editor and publisher. He began his journalism career in Darlington with the Northern Echo. In 1880 he became the assistant editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, a step up in Stead’s opinion, for it was the paper in London "which was read by the political and literary classes." He eventually became the editor and introduced illustrations and interviews to the publication. He had a penchant for organizing press campaigns and, among other things, helped to improve the British naval defenses. In 1890 he gave up daily journalism for his monthly publication Review of Reviews (1890-1936). He tried to start a daily newspaper in his later days, but it never found success and almost bankrupted him. Stead perished on the Titanic. His contemporaries described him as someone who was vaguely Puritan in his leanings and in his newspaper reporting. More.


Labouchere’s own publication, started in 1877.

Criminal Law Amendment Act

1885, designed to protect young girls from sexual exploitation and the slave trade, in part by raising the age of consent from 13 to 15. Without Stead’s support through his Pall Mall Gazette and his "Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" series, many historians agree that the amendment would have foundered. It had been presented to the houses twice before 1885, both times being defeated in the House of Commons. A rider attached to the Act would be used to convict Oscar Wilde just a few years later. The rider, called the Labouchere Amendment, made "gross indecency" between men punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment with or without hard labor.

bought a thirteen-year-old virgin for £5

An example of Stead’s investigative journalism. At this time in Britain there was a steady white slave trade to the continent, especially of females into sexual bondage. Stead contracted with the help of the Salvation Army to infiltrate and expose this trade. Stead bought a girl for £5 and ran a series of articles titled "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" in his Pall Mall Gazette. He did, however, also serve a jail term. His actions helped to pass the Criminal Law Amendment Act to further the protection of minors. Harris was extremely critical of this bit of journalism in his own Evening News.

Evening News

After a year as a reporter, Harris was the editor for this publication from 1883-1887.

Lord Beaconsfield’s Russian Policy

(1804-1881) Lord Beaconsfield was Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, twice prime minister of Great Britain. He got along very well with Queen Victoria, who favored his politics over those of the conservative leader Gladstone. The Russian Policy refers to the Russian-Turkish Conflict in the 1870s. Since the Crimean War (1850s), the conflict had mainly gone ignored by the politicians and the public. But in 1877 Russia declared war on Turkey as a retort against the persecution of Christian subjects in the Ottoman Empire. In 1878, the Russians had advanced to Constantinople. Great Britain worried for its interests in India, as war disrupted the trade routes. The queen wished to side with Turkey against Russia. A show of force from the British did control the Russians and a treaty was reached in Berlin in 1878 limiting the Russians’ spoils from their invasion. Beaconsfield’s policy to oppose and potentially crush the Russians for the Empire’s gain was widely rejected because of the atrocities committed by the Turks against the Bulgarians in 1876.


The southernmost district in county Durham in northern England. It was the location of Stead’s first newspaper job, the Northern Echo.

General Gordon to Khartoum

(1833-1885) Charles George Gordon, remembered for his fruitless siege at Khartoum. He was sent to the Sudan in 1884 to evacuate Khartoum, which was threatened by Sudanese rebels. One month after Gordon arrived in February 1884 the city was put under siege by these rebels. Gordon managed to hold the city until January 26, 1885, when the rebels broke through, killing Gordon and others. The British government did very little in the way of supplies or troops during the siege, often ignoring Gordon’s pleas for help. Ironically, British reinforcements were commissioned the day after the rebels took the city. Gordon was held up as a martyr by the public.


An outer borough of London on the western periphery.


City about 50 miles northwest of London, in the county of Northamptonshire.

Eton and Trinity

Oxford University Colleges.

victor ludorum

Latin, meaning "winner of the games."

Ave, Ligurine!

Latin, meaning "Hail, Ligurinus!" Ligurinus is a character in Horace’s Odes.

Campus Martius

Latin, meaning "Field of Mars."


Commonly accepted text.

John Percival Postgate

(1853-1926) Professor of Comparative Philology at UCL. Postgate recommended AEH to the Cambridge Philological Society in 1889. In general, Postgate supported AEH in all of his endeavors, but in 1895, the two men had an unpleasant controversy over Propertius. This may have eventually led AEH to abandoning the project, particularly after it got nowhere with either Macmillan Press or Oxford University Press. Postgate published Selected Elegies of Propertius in 1881.


Latin, meaning "rich."


A philosophical and literary movement which arose during the Renaissance in which human values and capabilities are the central focus, instead of a higher being. Humanists renewed their ties to scholarly pursuits and reiterated the need for education and scholarship.


(1469-1536) Dutch Renaissance scholar and Humanist remembered for his dedication and contribution to scholarship, including his edition of the Greek text of the New Testament of the Bible. Perhaps his best known writing is the satirical In Praise of Folly.

Ovid’s Medea … Thyestes of Varius … lost Aeschylus trilogy

All pieces now lost to posterity, known only by references to them in contemporary writings. Myrmidones was one of the lost Aeschylus trilogy.


(610?-580? BC) Greek lyric poet remembered for the beauty of her poetry. Much of her work survived in nine books of lyrical verse and one of elegiac until the early Middle Ages. By the 9th century only one poem, 28 lines long, and quotations in other works recorded her existence. More.

Quinque tibi potui servire (fidelitur annos)

Latin, translated by Housman as, "Five years your faithful slave."

gather ye rosebuds while you may

From the poem "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" by Robert Herrick, English Renaissance poet (1591-1674).

the grave’s a fine and private place but none I think do there embrace

From the poem "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell, English Jacobean poet (1621-1678).

‘If that’s the price for kisses due, it’s the last kiss I steal from you.’

From Catullus 99.


Mrs Rosa Chambers, a widow. She and Jackson married on December 9, 1889.

all hobnails

Rustic, boorish or clownish.


(c.470-399 BC) The first of the three great ancient Greek philosophers, teacher of Plato, who in turn was the teacher of Aristotle. He is the author of the Socratic method of debate, in which an argument is formed and strengthened by getting the opponent to concede individual points which bolster the main thought of the argument. More.

He would not stay for me; … half my life about my ways.

Housman’s Additional Poems, VII. Some scholars speculate that it was written on the occasion of Jackson’s move to India.

Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists? etc.

The first stanza from A.E. Housman’s Additional Poems, XVIII, commonly assumed to be about Oscar Wilde. Entire poem.

Hyde Park Corner

Hyde Park is a large outdoor park in central London, of which Buckingham Palace is on one side.


Town situated on the Thames, downstream from London. Its port leads to the English Channel.

Cafe Royal

Grille room north of Piccadilly Circus. It was frequented not only by AEH, but also Oscar Wilde, Frank Harris, George Bernard Shaw.

Now ’tis oakum for his fingers, etc.

The final stanza from XVIII of Additional Poems. Entire poem.


Loosely twisted hemp or jute fiber impregnated with tar or a tar derivative and used in caulking seams and packing joints.


The Isle of Portland, a craggy peninsula on the English Channel in the county of Dorset. Verne Prison is there and convict labor constructed the breakwaters, first between 1847 and 1862 and then again after 1895.

Jerome K. Jerome

(1859-1927) English novelist and playwright. His first book was published in 1885, but it was not until his next books, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886) and Three Men in a Boat (1889), that he received any notoriety. His easy-going style and open humor made him popular. From 1892 to 1897 he co-edited The Idler, a monthly magazine which featured Mark Twain among others. From 1893 to 1897 he ran a weekly illustrated paper called To-day, which he was forced to sell after a libel suit cost him £9,000. His works include Three Men on the Bummel (1900) and Paul Kelver (1902), an autobiographical novel. His memoirs, My Life and Times, were published in 1926.


The town where the jail was located at which Oscar Wilde was sentenced to hard labor.


The Savoy Hotel, a luxury hotel built in 1889 on the Thames in London. Wilde often took rooms here.


A literary movement, mainly recognized after its passing. It was the literature which came about in England and on the Continent in the late 19th century.

Robbie Ross

(1869-1918) A friend of Wilde and one of his first lovers. Wilde liked Ross for his loyalty, wit and ease, but saw in Ross, one "wasting a youth that has always been, and always will be, full of promise." During Wilde’s later years in France, Ross continued to visit him and became his literary executor after Wilde’s death. Ross is pictured on the left with Wilde.

Sir Edmund Gosse

(1849-1928) English man of letters, translator, literary historian and critic who was knighted in 1925. He helped to introduce the literature of the European continent to the English reading public at large.

Jubilee Night, June 1897

Jubilee 1897, which celebrated 60 years of Victoria’s reign, is also known as the Diamond Jubilee. After 1897 Victoria largely retired from her political and social life, dying four years later. Housman describes watching the Jubilee celebrations in a letter dated June 25, 1897, to his stepmother.

‘The thoughts of others’ etc.

From Housman’s More Poems, VI. More Poems was published posthumously. Entire poem.



‘Oh, were he and I together … the summer weather…’

From Housman’s Additional Poems, II. These poems were published posthumously. Entire poem.

early though the laurel grows, etc.

From A Shropshire Lad, XIX: "And early though the laurel grows / It withers quicker than the rose." Entire poem.

‘Because I liked you better than suits a men to say….’

From Housman’s More Poems, XXXI. Entire poem.

‘But this unlucky love should last’ etc.

From Housman’s More Poems, XII. Entire poem.


Town in Worcestershire.

Hughley Church

AEH wrote of the Hughley church’s steeple in A Shropshire Lad, LXI. Entire poem. Note in picture on left that church does not have a steeple.

Laurence Housman

(1865-1959) AEH’s brother. Laurence was also a poet (and a playwright) and he and AEH were often confused while they were living. AEH appointed Laurence as the executor of his estate. Picture of Laurence. More.

Order of Chaeronea

A secret society that developed in the early 1890s in order to help homosexual men in trouble with the law. Requiring the utmost secrecy, chapters developed internationally and their style has been described as Masonic. Laurence Housman is known to have participated in this Order. It takes its name from the battle at which the Sacred Band of Theban Youths died.


Town and seaport of Northern France.

‘Shot? So quick, so clean an ending?’ etc.

From A Shropshire Lad, XLIV. Entire poem.

Evening Standard

A London paper.

Woolwich cadet

Said to be the inspiration for poem XLIV from A Shropshire Lad, "Shot? So quick, so clean an ending?"

‘Oh, soon, and better so than later’ etc.

From A Shropshire Lad, XLIV.

George Bernard Shaw

(1856-1950) English writer, journalist, playwright and critic. Shaw wrote for the Pall Mall Gazette and other diverse publications but his success and indeed his money came from his plays. Shaw’s plays were an English contribution to voices of Realism on the world stage. More.

James McNeill Whistler

(1834-1903) Celebrated American artist, known for his portrayals of London and his full-length portraits. Perhaps his best known painting is the portrait of his mother, familiarly known as "Whistler’s Mother." When Wilde lived on Tite Street, he and Whistler were congenial neighbors. In 1877, Whistler sued John Ruskin for libel against his painting, "Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket." Whistler won the case, but the expense from it led to his eventual bankruptcy. More.

Lily Langtry

(1853-1929) British actress and reputed beauty.

The Prince of Wales

Queen Victoria’s eldest son, the future King Edward VII.

Covent Garden

A large square in Westminster, London, which houses market stalls selling flowers and produce. It has been in existence since the early 19th century.


(1870-1945) Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of the Marquess of Queensberry, and Oscar Wilde’s companion in a relationship which had strong homosexual overtones. He was a graduate of Oxford University, which is how he met Wilde in 1891. Bosie’s father disliked his son’s associations with Wilde and accused Wilde of posing as a sodomite, for which Wilde took Queensberry to court. Bosie propelled Wilde into the suit against his father. Wilde had to withdraw the suit after evidence began to stack against him, evidence which would convict him later for gross indecency. During his time in prison, Wilde began to distrust Bosie and in 1897 after a reunion and holiday in Italy, the two split on irreconcilable terms over money. Upon Wilde’s death, however, Bosie paid for the funeral arrangements. More.

Hyacinth when Apollo loved him

Youth beloved of Apollo; he and Apollo were competing in throwing the discus when he was struck with Apollo’s discus and died. Hyacinth flowers bloomed from Hyacinth’s blood on the ground.

‘Even as a teething child … nor keep still by day’

From Plato’s Phaedrus.


(55/60-c. 127 AD) Roman satirist. His 16 extant satires address two main themes, the corruption of Roman society and the imperfect and cruel nature of man.


(39-65 AD) Roman poet and republican. Nero, the emperor of Rome, who originally admired his works, out of jealousy forbade Lucan to write. In retort, Lucan plotted with others against Nero and, when discovered, was ordered to take his own life in recompense. Most of his works are lost, with the exception of the Latin epic Pharsalia, which is often placed right after Aeneid in importance.

Theognis was writing

Theognis (5th century BC) was an elegiac poet from Megara (near Athens). Many of his poems are addressed to his beloved, Cyrnus, and his poems reflect the struggle of the aristocratic classes in a time of constant turmoil of the Peloponnesian War. His extant work is one of the largest groups of surviving Greek elegiac poetry, although some are questionably attributed to Theognis.

New Drama

Realism and Naturalism on the stage.

New Novel

Realism dominating over Romanticism.

New Journalism

The term used for the revolution that was taking place in journalism, which featured not only the reporting of the daily news, but the active tracking down of it by reporters. Journalism became a more interpretive medium as the writers began to shape not only public opinion, but public morality. Stories also began to change for readability, with paragraphs becoming shorter, headlines more eyecatching and interviews more prevalent.

New Hedonism

Renewal of the interest in and usage of physical sensations in art and life (the phrase is used in Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray).

New Paganism

Revival of authentic pantheons and rituals of ancient cultures, usually associated with a love for nature and a celebratory, rather than penitential, attitude.

New Woman

Women who wanted the vote and equality with men.

Cornelius Gallus

(70-26 BC) Roman soldier and one of the four greatest elegiac poets. He won fame and honor in the battle against Antony at Actium, and as a reward was given a governorship over Egypt. However, his life ended in disgrace and suicide. Virgil commemorates his memory in Eclogue VI and X. His poems have not survived. More.

‘And lately how many wounds has Gallus bathed in the waters of the Underworld, dead for love of beautiful Lycoris!’

From Propertius II.xxxiv, lines 90-93.


Roman goddesses of vengeance. They are cruel, but just. Virgil placed them in the Underworld for the purpose of tormenting sinners.


In Greek mythology, ugly, winged monsters with the faces of old women who carried off people to the Underworld, "the hounds of Zeus."


In Greek mythology, monstrous feminine creatures with the power to turn all to stone with just a glance. In later myths, there are only three of them, including Medusa. They are covered with impenetrable scales, have sharp fangs and sport beards along with their snakes.


The only mortal Gorgon, who was killed by Perseus.

the Dog

Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the Underworld.