William Watson biography

William Watson


1858 – 1935


Who was William Watson?

Sir William Watson was an English poet, popular in his time for the celebratory content, and famous for the controversial political content, of his verse. He was born in Burley, in present-day West Yorkshire.

He was a prolific poet of the 1890s, and a contributor to The Yellow Book, though without 'decadent' associations. Indeed he was very much on the traditionalist wing of English poetry. His reputation was established in 1891, with the publication of 'Wordsworth's Grave', thought by many to be his finest work. He was well equipped to write suitable effusions on public occasions, indeed better equipped than many of his contemporaries. This made him, on Tennyson's death in 1892, a strong candidate to be his eulogist, the commission resulting in his fine 'Lachrymae Musarum'. A breakdown later in 1892 and its resulting untoward behaviour led to him being passed over for the position of Poet Laureate by the then Prime Minister Lord Salisbury in favour of Alfred Austin, who was seen as a lesser poet.

He regained his standing in 1894 with the publication of 'Odes and other poems', which included the accomplished 'Vita Nuova', expressing gratitude for his recovery.

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Aug 2, 1858
Burley in Wharfedale
  • England
Lived in
  • West Yorkshire
Aug 11, 1935

on July 23, 2013


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