William Edward Hickson

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William Edward Hickson (January 7, 1803 – March 22, 1870), commonly known as W. E. Hickson, was a British educational writer, philanthropist, and refomer. He was the author of "Time and Faith" and was the editor of The Westminster Review (1840–1852). He wrote part of the Official Peace Version of the British national anthem, approved by the Privy Council, found in the 1925 edition of Songs of Praise and, with one line changed, in the 1933 edition. He wrote four verses of a hymn beginning "God bless our native land" in 1836 and intended these as a remedy to what could be seen as shortfalls in the parts of the existing anthem. The first, third, and fourth stanzas were added to the UK National Anthem in the English Hymnal. The fourth verse was officially added to the traditional first verse of the Anthem during the raising of the Union Jack during the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics.


Hickson (earlier, spelt Hixton)was the son of William Hickson, a boot and shoe manufacturer of Smithfield, London. Having studied schools in The Netherlands and Germany, he retired from the family business in 1840 to concentrate on philanthropic pursuits: particularly the cause of elementary education.[1] He became editor and proprietor of The Westminster Review which was notable for its commitment to legislative reform and popular education.

Hickson died at Fairseat, Stansted, Kent, where he was buried.


Hickson is credited with popularizing the proverb:

'Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again.[2]

The proverb can be traced back to the writings of Thomas H. Palmer in his Teacher's Manual, and The Children of the New Forest by Fredrick Marryat.[3]


  • The Singing master (1836)
  • Dutch and German Schools (1840)
  • Part Singing (1842)
  • Time and faith — 2 vols. (1857)


  1. ^ Aldrich, Richard J; Gordon, Peter (1989). Dictionary of British Educationists. Routledge. p. 112. ISBN 0-7130-0177-1. 
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (3rd edition). Oxford University Press. 1979. p. 251. 
  3. ^ "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (1996, pg.154)

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