Monday, July 12, 2010

Ernest Dowson Remembered

The local connections of the Victorian decadent poet Ernest Dowson have been covered at Transpontine before (born in Lee, died in Catford after spells in Paris and Brittany, buried in Brockley). His life will be celebrated on Monday August 2nd at 2 pm, with the unveiling of his restored grave in Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery.

There will be an introduction and a reading by Jad Adams, Author of the biography 'Madder Music, Stronger wine: The Life of Ernest Dowson, Poet and Decadent' followed by a memorial in the cemetery chapel, ending with a toast to celebrate the life of Dowson in the Brockley Jack Theatre.

I note that Ernest Dowson was familiar with the term Transpontine. In 1893 he wrote to a friend: 'Yesterday an advertisement in The Times was sent me, for a librarian, in a Public Free Library (under the Public Library Acts) ... I have been advised to apply for this, I fear, not very desirable post, and I have thought that if you, with your official signature of Librarian . . . could give me a testimonial, I might stand some chance. Could you consider me then, in a short missive a competent person to hand out dime novels to transpontine shop boys?' (source: Ernest Dowson, 1888-1897, reminiscences, unpublished letters and Marginalia, 1914).

The library in question was the (still open) Newington Library in Walworth Road - he didn't get the job. Transpontine proles like myself still frequent it.
(thanks to Mike Guilfoyle from the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries for the heads up on this)

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