Papers of William Watson, 1858-1935, poet

Scope and Content

The Fisher by William Watson. Poem c1935, manuscript on one sheet of paper, held within glass frame.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Watson was born at Burley-in-Wharfedale, Yorkshire, England, in 1858. In 1880, he published his first book The Prince's Quest. Recognition came with the publication of Wordsworth's Grave in 1890; and fame with the publication of the second edition in 1891, and with the appearance in the Fortnightly Review, August 1891, of an article by Grant Alien entitled A New Poet. During the years 1890-1892 , he contributed articles to the National Review, Spectator, Illustrated London News, Academy, Bookman and Atlanta, which were collected and republished in 1893 as Excursions in Criticism. In 1893, he also published Lacrymae Musaram and The Eloping Angels, a serio-comic trifle dedicated to Grant Alien. During this year William Gladstone bestowed on him the Civil List pension of £200. In 1894, he published Odes and Other Poems, and in 1895, The Father of the Forest. The volume contained a sonnet named To the Turk in Armenia, which was a prelude to the series of sonnets about Armenia, which was, in turn, contributed to the Westminster Gazette and republished in a brochure called The Purple East in 1896. These sonnets were republished with revision and considerable additions, and a preface by the bishop of Hereford, in The Year of Shame in 1897.In 1898, he published his Collected Poems and a volume of new poetry The Hope of the World. In 1900, he married Maureen Pring, with whom he had two daughters. In 1902, he printed privately 50 copies of New Poems, and in 1903 besides a volume of Selected Poems, a collection of poems he contributed to various periodicals and called For England: Poems Written During Estrangement, a poetical defence of his patriotism during the Boer War. He was knighted in 1917. He died in 1935.

Source: Who Was Who, 1929-1940, (London, 1941).


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information

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Acquisition Information

Deposited, June 1960, ACCN 1068

Other Finding Aids

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Applications for permission to quote should be sent to Archives and Special Collections, please email:

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History

Presented to English Dept. by Vice-Admiral Sir James Troup. Placed in Library on instructions of Prof. Alexander


None expected

Related Material

GB 247 MS Gen 1654/616, Press cutting from Everyone: The Neglected Genius of William Watson (Glasgow University Library Special Collections);

GB 161, MSS Walpole, Correspondence and Papers of Sir William Watson, 1858-1935, including literary MSS (Oxford University: Bodleian Library Special Collections and Western Manuscripts).