Richard Watson Dixon
Dixon was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, and on proceeding to Pembroke College, Oxford, became one of the famous Birmingham Set there who shared with William Morris and Burne-Jones in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Dixon wrote one story and two essays for The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, which the group published in 1856. He took only a second class in moderations in 1854, and a third in Literae Humaniores in 1856; but in 1858 he won the Arnold prize for a historical essay, and in 1863 the English Sacred Poem prize.
He was ordained in 1858, was second master of Carlisle high school, 1863-68, and successively vicar of Hayton, Cumberland, and Warkworth, Northumberland. He became minor canon and honorary librarian of Carlisle in 1868, and honorary canon in 1874, he was proctor in convocation (1890-94), and received the honorary degree of D.D. from Oxford in 1899. He died at Warkworth.
Canon Dixon's first two volumes of verse, Christ's Company and Historical Odes, were published in 1861 and 1863 respectively; but it was not until 1883 that he attracted conspicuous notice with Mano, an historical poem in terza rima, which was enthusiastically praised by Mr. Swinburne. This success he followed up by three privately printed volumes, Odes and Eclogues (1884), Lyrical Poems (1886), and The Story of Eudocia (1888).
Dixon's poems were during the last fifteen years of his life recognized as scholarly and refined exercises, touched with both dignity and a certain severe beauty, but he never attained any general popularity as a poet, the appeal of his poetry being directly to the scholar. A great student of history, his studies in that direction colour much of his poetry. The romantic atmosphere is remarkably preserved in Mano, a successful metrical exercise in the difficult terza rima.
His typical poems have charm and melody, without introducing any new note or variety of rhythm. He is contemplative, sober and finished in literary workmanship, a typical example of the Oxford school. Pleasant as his poetry is, however, he will probably be longest remembered by the work to which he gave the best years of his life, his History of the Church of England from the Abolition of the Roman Jurisdiction (1878-1902). At the time of his death he had completed six volumes, two of which were published posthumously. This fine work, covering the period from 1529 to 1570, is built upon elaborate research, and presents a trustworthy and unprejudiced survey of its subject.
Dixon's Selected Poems were published in 1909 with a memoir of the author by Robert Bridges.
- "The Rivals", "The Barrier Kingdoms", and "Prospects of Peace", entries in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine (1856)
- The Close of the Tenth Century of the Christian Era (1858)
- Christ's Company and Other Poems (1861)
- Historical Odes and Other Poems (1864)
- The Life of James Dixon (1874)
- Essay on the Maintenance of the Church of England (1875)
- History of the Church of England from the Abolition of the Roman Jurisdiction (1877-1890)
- Mano: a Poetical History (1883)
- Odes and Eclogues (1884)
- Lyrical Poems (1885)
- The Story of Eudocia and Her Brothers, a Narrative Poem (1887)
- Songs and Odes (1896)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- MacCarthy, Fiona. William Morris: A Life for Our Time. Knopf: New York, 1995.
- Mano: a Poetical History at Google Books
- Works by Richard Watson Dixon at the Internet Archive
- 'The Rivals' at The Rossetti Archive.