Edward Dowden, was an Irish critic and poet.
He was the son of John Wheeler Dowden, a merchant and landowner, and was born at Cork, three years after his brother John, who became Bishop of Edinburgh in 1886. Edward's literary tastes emerged early, in a series of essays written at the age of twelve. His home education continued at Queen's College, Cork and at Trinity College, Dublin; at the latter he had a distinguished career, becoming president of the Philosophical Society, and winning the vice-chancellor's prize for English verse and prose, and the first senior moderatorship in ethics and logic. In 1867 he was elected professor of oratory and English literature in Dublin University.
Dowden's first book, Shakespeare, his Mind and Art, resulted from a revision of a course of lectures, and made him widely known as a critic: translations appeared in German and Russian; his Poems went into a second edition. His Shakespeare Primer was translated into Italian and German. In 1878 the Royal Irish Academy awarded him the Cunningham gold medal "for his literary writings, especially in the field of Shakespearian criticism."
Later works by him in this field included: Shakespeare's Sonnets, Passionate Pilgrim, Introduction to Shakespeare, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Cymbeline, and his article on "Shakespeare as a Man of Science", criticizing T.E. Webb's Mystery of William Shakespeare. His critical essays "Studies in Literature", "Transcripts and Studies", "New Studies in Literature" showed a profound knowledge of the currents and tendencies of thought in various ages and countries; but his Life of Shelley made him best known to the public at large. In 1900 he edited an edition of Shelley's works.