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Author: James Thomson

Born in 1834 in Port Glasgow, Scotland, James Thomson was raised in the slums of East London, where his mother worked as a seamstress, supporting the family. Orphaned young, he was raised in a series of educational asylums and served time in the English Army as a schoolmaster. He started publishing essays and poems in radical journals during his time in the Army with the pseudonym "B.V." for "Bysshe Vanolis," after two of his most important literary influences, Shelley and Novalis. In 1862, he was court-martialed from the Army and returned to London to work as a clerk, hoping to support himself as a writer. Unfortunately, he never achieved the financial security he needed- his poverty, alcoholism, and increasingly erratic behavior plagued his ability to keep the social circles he needed to publish and find income. Despite favorable reviews of his work, including an 1880 edition of "The City of Dreadful Night" that went into a second printing, Thomson's health continued to decline, and his drinking bouts worsened as he increasingly needed friends' assistance to keep him housed. James Thomson died destitute and homeless in early June 1882.

The City of Dreadful Night
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The City of Dreadful Night

Entre Rios Books

The Classic Poem of Urban Alienation by James Thomson The City of Dreadful Night was first published as a serial in the National Reformer in 1874 and then in book form in 1880. Its author, James Thomson, was known at the time primarily for his essa...

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