Dawson Dawson-Watson was born on July 21, 1864 in the Parish of St. Pancras in London, England.¹ Born into an artistic family, he was the son of John Dawson Watson (1832–1892), a painter and illustrator, and his wife, Jane Dawson Edmondson.
In an article from the El Paso Evening Post he later recalled, “I lived with artists during my entire boyhood. My father was an artist. My ancestors have been actors, painters or other kinds of artists.”² This creative circle included his uncles, Thomas James Watson (1847-1912), a watercolorist, and Myles Birket Foster (1825–1899), a distinguished painter, illustrator, and engraver. Dawson-Watson’s father also associated with a coterie of prominent English and American artists that included Frederick Walker, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Ford Madox Brown, George Inness, James McNeill Whistler, William Morris, and Edward Burne-Jones.
As a boy growing up in the village of Milford, in Surrey, Dawson-Watson remembered seeing Alfred, Lord Tennyson who wrote a number of his poems there. Visitors to the Dawson-Watson household likewise included well-known figures from the theatrical world, among them Johnston Forbes-Robertson, Beatrice Forbes-Robertson, Kyrle Bellew, and George Grossmith.³
Dawson-Watson portrait photograph ca. 1869
(Dawson Dawson-Watson family archives)
1. London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906, Ancestry.com (online database), accessed August 9, 2014.
2. “Artist Says Has Done Everything But Make Money,” El Paso Evening Post, March 3, 1928, p. 2.
3. Dawson Dawson-Watson, “Things Remembered,” manuscript memoir, Dawson-Watson family archives.