Added: November 12, 2001 – Last updated: April 2, 2016


Author: Jad Adams

Title: Madder Music, Stronger Wine

Subtitle: The Life of Ernest Dowson, Poet and Decadent

Place: London and New York

Publisher: I.B. Tauris

Year: 2000

Pages: 211pp.

ISBN-10: 1860647146 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 19th Century | European History: English History | Prosecution: Laws / Age of Consent, Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885; Types: Child Sexual Abuse


Link: Amazon (Limited Preview)


Author: Author's Personal Website


  Acknowledgements (p. vii)
  List of Illustrations (p. viii)
  Introduction (p. ix)
  1. The Pagan Child (p. 1)
  2. The Pessimistic Student (p. 10)
  3. Dowson and Son (p. 19)
  4. The Serious Rhymers (p. 31)
  5. Down Among the Daycadongs (p. 44)
  6. Moral Torture (p. 55)
  7. The Adventure of Literature (p. 67)
  8. Bright Lights (p. 80)
  9. Decadent Disintegration (p. 92)
  10. Savoy Days (p. 105)
  11. Paris Nights (p. 117)
  12. Savage Beauty (p. 128)
  13. The Devil’s Dance (p. 141)
  14. The Valley of Humiliation (p. 153)
  15. The Dying of Ernest Dowson (p. 164)
  16. Friends of Ernest Dowson (p. 172)
  17. The Dowson Legacy (p. 181)
  Appendix: Dowson’s Major Works (p. 187)
  Notes (p. 189)
  Index (p. 205)

Description: »Ernest Dowson, the subject of this biography, was one of the major poets of the romantic late-Victorian Decadent period. He died in 1900 at the age of 32. His life is both a story of doomed love and one of a man's struggle to create beauty in the face of adversity: Dowson was an alcoholic and a severe depressive who created much of his best work when suffering from the tuberculosis which was to kill him when he was a homeless vagabond owning nothing but a tattered manuscript book of verse. Yet this little-understood figure of the Victorian literary world wrote some of the most-quoted lyrics in English verse ("gone with the wind", "days of wine and roses") in the company of contemporaries such as Wilde, Yeats and Beardsley, who illustrated Dowson's work. The poet's circumstances carried all the elements of tragedy: both parents committed suicide, he never had a fixed home, and his life was blighted by an impossible affair with a girl he first met when she was 11. The book examines Dowson's obsessions and explores his life and work in the context of the social mores and attitudes of his era.« (Source: I.B. Tauris)

Note: Chapter 6 deals with issues of consent and under-age sex in the years surrounding the 1885 Sexual Law Amendment Act in the UK.


Gubar, Marah. Victorian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Social, Political and Cultural Studies 45(2) (Winter 2003): 373-375. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

MacLeod, Kirsten. Victorian Review 30(1) (2004): 97-100. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Posesorski, Sherie. New York Times Book Review (December 17, 2000): 22. – Full Text: New York Times (Free Access)

Sturgis, Matthew. »Drowned in the waters of oblivion.« TLS: The Times Literary Supplement No. 5055 (February 18, 2000): 36. – Full Text: TLS (Restricted Access)

Whittington-Egan, Richard. The Contemporary Review 277(1617) (2000): 248-249.

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of England | Law: Laws regarding rape / Age of consent, Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 | 19th-century English writers: Ernest Dowson