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W. H. D. Rouse

W.H.D. Rouse
Calcutta, India
Born(1863-05-30)30 May 1863
Calcutta, India
Died10 February 1950(1950-02-10) (aged 86)
Hayling Island, England
Period20th century
GenreHistorial fiction

William Henry Denham (W. H. D.) Rouse (/rz/; 30 May 1863 – 10 February 1950) was a pioneering British teacher who advocated the use of the Direct Method of teaching Latin and Greek.


Rouse was born in Calcutta, India on 30 May 1863.[1] When his family returned home on leave to Britain, Rouse was sent to Regent's Park College in London, where he studied as a lay student. In 1881 he gained a scholarship to Christ's College, Cambridge.[2] Rouse gained a double first in the Classical Tripos at the University of Cambridge, where he also studied Sanskrit. He became a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge in 1888.[3]

After brief spells at Bedford School (1886–1888) and Cheltenham College (1890–1895),[4] he became a schoolmaster at Rugby School, where he encouraged Arthur Ransome – against his parents' wishes – to become a writer. Ransome later wrote, "My greatest piece of good fortune in coming to Rugby was that I passed so low into the school ... that I came at once into the hands of a most remarkable man whom I might otherwise never have met. This was Dr W.H.D. Rouse."[5]

Rouse was appointed headmaster of The Perse School, Cambridge, in 1902. While in charge, he restored it to a sound financial footing following a crisis. As a teacher he believed firmly in learning by doing as well as seeing and hearing: although the curriculum at the Perse was dominated by classics, he urged that science should be learned through experiment and observation. He was a strong personality, described by the archivist of The Perse School as the school's greatest Headmaster: "Rouse was strongly independent to the point of eccentricity. He hated most machines, all bureaucracy and public exams."[6] He retired from teaching in 1928.

In 1911, Rouse started a successful series of summer schools for teachers to promulgate the Direct Method of teaching Latin and Greek. The Association for the Reform of Latin Teaching (ARLT) was formed in 1913 as a result of these seminars.

Also in 1911, James Loeb chose W.H.D. Rouse, together with two other eminent Classical scholars, T. E. Page and Edward Capps, to be founding editors of the Loeb Classical Library.

Rouse is known for his plain English prose translations of Homer's ancient Greek epic poems Odyssey (1937) and Iliad (1938). He is also recognized for his translations of Plato's Dialogues, including The Republic, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo.

Rouse died in Hayling Island on 10 February 1950.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Catalogus Philologorum Classicorum". Archived from the original on July 19, 2012.
  2. ^ "Rouse, William Henry Denham". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  3. ^ "Rouse, William Henry Denham (RS882WH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ "Who's Who". Oxford University Press. 2019.
  5. ^ "The Autobiography of Arthur Ransome", Hart-Davis (ed), Jonathan Cape, London 1976, p.52.
  6. ^ "A Vision Realised: A History of the Perse and its move from Gonville Place to Hills Road forty years ago", D.J. Jones, Perse School 2001, p.29.

Further reading

  • The Living Word: W. H. D. Rouse and the Crisis of Classics in Edwardian England, by Christopher Stray, published by Bristol Classical Press in 1992 (ISBN 1-85399-262-3)
  • Great Dialogues of Plato (Signet Classics) ISBN 0-451-52745-3

External links