James Thomson

(1834 – 1882)

James Thomson

James Thomson

James Thomson was a poet, an an important voiec of nineteenth century rebellion. He is best known for ‘City of Dreadful Night’ first published in Charles Bradlaugh‘s journal The National Reformer. He also wrote under the pen-name ‘Bysshe Vanolis’ (or ‘B.V.’) honouring the poets Shelley and Novalis whom he admired.

Thomson was norn in Port Glasgow, the son of a merchant seaman. His sister died as a child after catching the measles from Thomson and his mother died two years after they moved to London.

Thomson was sent to the Royal Caledonian Asylum for the children of Scottish servicemen and continued his education continued at the Royal Military Asylum in Chelsea.

Thomason went on to be a schoolmaster in the army and while serving in Ireland he met Bradlaugh. He was expelled from the army for his drinking and returned to London where he worked as a journalisyt and writer including a time as a war correspondent in Spain for The Secularist.

He wrote a poem Address for the opening of Leicester’s Secular Hall in 1881, which was recited by the actress Mrs Theodore Wright.

Thomson’s alcoholism eventually hospitalised him where he died of an internal haemorrhage, homeless and in poverty in 1882.

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