Who was Ernest Dowson? Information on English poet, novelist and short story writer Ernest Dowson biography, life story, poems and poetry.
Ernest Dowson; (1867-1900), English poet of the fin de siècle decadent school, who is remembered for his exquisite and fragile, sensuous yet refined, lyrics on the pathos and brevity of life and the agony of unrequited love. Ernest Christopher Dowson was born at Lee, Kent, on Aug. 2, 1867. After travel on the Continent, mostly in France, he entered Queen’s College, Oxford, in 1886, but left in 1888 without taking a degree. He began to write short stories and poems while working on the London docks and in 1880 became a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Rhymers’ Club.
Dowson was shattered by the death of his father in 1894 and his mother’s suicide six months later. These horribly painful experiences were heightened by his great but unrequited passion for a young girl, Adelaide Foltinowicz, the daughter of a Polish café owner. To her he dedicated his Verses (1896). Ill with consumption and despairing, he sought escape in alcohol. He died in London on Feb. 23, 1900.
Dowson’s fame rests on the poem Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae, containing the well-known line, “I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.” He also wrote the book of poems Decorations ( 1899 ) ; a volume of short stories Dilemmas (1895); and a poetic drama, The Pierrot of the Minute ( 1897 ).