At the age of 23, Earnest Dowson fell in love with the eleven-year-old Adelaide “Missie” Foltinowicz, the daughter of a Polish restaurant owner. Adelaide is reputed to be the subject of one his best-known poems, Non Sum Qualis eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae. He pursued her unsuccessfully, and in 1897 Dowson was crushed when she married a tailor who lodged above her father’s restaurant
Ernest Dowson died at the age of 32, he is buried in the Roman Catholic section of Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery.
When Dowson died, Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘Poor wounded wonderful fellow that he was, a tragic reproduction of all tragic poetry, like a symbol, or a scene. I hope bay leaves will be laid on his tomb and rue and myrtle too for he knew what love was.’