Lionel Johnson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Lionel Johnson
Born (1867-03-15)15 March 1867
Died 4 October 1902(1902-10-04) (aged 35)
Nationality English
Occupation Poet, essayist, and critic

Lionel Pigot Johnson (15 March 1867 – 4 October 1902) was an English poet, essayist, and critic.


Johnson was born in Broadstairs, Kent, United Kingdom in 1867 and educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, graduating in 1890. He became a Catholic convert in June 1891.[1] In 1893 he published what some would consider his greatest work, Dark Angel. Johnson lived a solitary life in London, struggling with alcoholism and repressed homosexuality.[2][3] He died of a stroke in 1902, after a fall in the street, though it was said to be a fall from a barstool[2] in the Green Dragon on Fleet Street.[4]

During his lifetime were published his The Art of Thomas Hardy (1894), Poems (1895), Ireland and Other Poems (1897). He was one of the Rhymers' Club, and cousin to Olivia Shakespear (who dedicated her novel The False Laurel to him).

In June 1891 Johnson introduced his cousin Lord Alfred Douglas to his friend Oscar Wilde. He later repudiated Wilde in "The Destroyer of a Soul" (1892), deeply regretting initiating what became the highly scandalous love affair between the two men.[5]

Over a century after its writing in 1893, Johnson's poem Dark Angel inspired the Dark Angels chapter of Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 fictional universe. Lion El'Jonson, the chapter's central character, is also named after the poet.[2][6]


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Lionel Pigot Johnson". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  2. ^ a b c O'Gorman, Francis (2004). Victorian Poetry: An Annotated Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 672–677. ISBN 0-631-23435-7. 
  3. ^ Arkins, Brian (1990). Builders of My Soul: Greek and Roman Themes in Yeats. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 8. ISBN 0-389-20913-9. 
  4. ^ Sweet, Matthew (2001). Inventing the Victorians. London: Faber and Faber. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-571-20663-6. 
  5. ^ Fisher, Trevor (2002). Oscar and Bosie. Sutton Publishing. pp. 42–3. ISBN 0-7509-2459-4. 
  6. ^ Hanson, Ellis (1997). Decadence and Catholicism. Harvard University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-674-19444-6. 


  • Twenty one poems written by Lionel Johnson, selected by William Butler Yeats (Dun Emer Press, 1904) online text
  • Some Winchester Letters of Lionel Johnson, (George Allen & Unwin, London, 1919.)
  • The collected poems of Lionel Johnson (1953) edited by Ian Fletcher, Unicorn Press, London (reprinted 1982).
  • Post Liminium. Essays and Critical Papers (1911) edited by Thomas Whittemore, Elkin Mathews, London (reprinted 1968).
  • Lionel Johnson Victorian Dark Angel by Richard Whittington-Egan, Cappella Archive (2012).
  • At the Heart of the 1890s: Essays on Lionel Johnson Gary Paterson, AMS Press (2008)

External links[edit]