The most tragic personality of the “tragic generation” of the 1890s, Dowson was the quintessential English decadent poet, moving in the literary circles of Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and Leonard Smithers, and contributing essays, poems and stories to the leading little magazines of the day, including the

Century Guild Hobby Horse

, the

Yellow Book

and the


. He earned a bare living as a translator and completed two novels and a play,

The Pierrot of the Minute

(published in 1897 with illustrations by Beardsley). Along with Lionel Johnson, he became a celebrated


and key member of the Rhymers’ Club, and gained a reputation for writing pessimistic lyrics that fixated on despair, ennui and the “Cult of the Child” (Dowson 1889). Rupert Brooke said of his poetry,…

2277 words

Citation: Desmarais, Jane. "Ernest Dowson". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 May 2015 [, accessed 23 February 2024.]

1307 Ernest Dowson 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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