A Shropshire Lad (1896) is a cycle of sixty-three poems by the English poet Alfred Edward Housman. A Shropshire Lad was first published in 1896 at Housman's own expense after several publishers had turned it down, much to the surprise of his colleagues and students. At first the book sold slowly, but during the Second Boer War, Housman's nostalgic depiction of rural life and young men's early deaths struck a chord with English readers and the book became a bestseller. Later, World War I further increased its popularity. Alfred Edward Housman (26 March 1859 - 30 April 1936), usually known as A. E. Housman, was an English classical scholar and poet, best known for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad. Lyrical and almost epigrammatic in form, the poems were mostly written before 1900. Their wistful evocation of doomed youth in the English countryside, in spare language and distinctive imagery, appealed strongly to late Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian taste, and to many early twentieth century English composers (beginning with Arthur Somervell) both before and after the First World War.
Through its song-setting the poetry became closely associated with that era, and with Shropshire itself. Housman was counted one of the foremost classicists of his age, and has been ranked as one of the greatest scholars of all time. He established his reputation publishing as a private scholar and, on the strength and quality of his work, was appointed Professor of Latin at UCL and later, at Cambridge. His editions of Juvenal, Manilius and Lucan are still considered authoritative.