Ernest Dowson (1867-1900), in the words of his biographer, was a ‘poet and decadent’ who lived and died in the Lewisham area.
Dowson was born in his parent’s home, Gothic House, The Grove, Lee on 2 August 1867. After his father's suicide in 1894, his mother moved to 97 Quentin Rd, Lee where she killed herself the following year.
As a poet Dowson became involved with The Rhymers Club, whose poets included WB Yeats and John Barlas, an anarchist arrested in 1891 for shooting a pistol near the speaker of the House of Commons residence (Oscar Wilde stood bail). Wilde sometimes attended Club as did Edgar Jepson, whose lodgings in Harleyford Road, Vauxhall were sometimes used as a crashpad by Dowson after a night's drinking.
He died in February 1900 while staying at the home of Robert Sherard, a writer and former friend of Verlaine, who lived at 26 Sandhurst Gardens (now 159 Langley Road), Catford. He was visited there by the novelist Conal O'Riordan (living in Bromley) and the artists Charles Conder and Augustus John. His grave is in Ladywell cemetery.
"They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream”.
Source: Madder Music, Stronger Wine: the life of Ernest Dowson, Poet and Decadent - Jad Adams (London: Tauris, 1990)