Dyer, George (1755–1841)

Author and advocate of political reform. Son of John Dyer, a shipwright of Bridewell, London. Educated at Christ’s Hospital and Emmanuel College, Cambridge (BA 1778). From the late 1780s to mid 1790s he was active in reformist causes, a member of the Constitutional Society and author of An Inquiry into the Nature of Subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles (1789, 2nd revised edn 1792), Complaints of the Poor People of England (1793) and A Dissertation on the Theory and Practice of Benevolence (1795). After 1795, he abandoned active politics, turning instead to scholarship and literature. He was a prolific poet whose works included, Poems, Consisting of Odes and Elegies (1792), The Poet’s Fate (1797), and Poetics (1812). Dyer met Southey in c. 1794–1795, probably through Coleridge. He was enthusiastic about Pantisocracy and encouraged the publication of The Fall of Robespierre (1794). He seems to have corresponded with Southey from the mid 1790s, but none of these early letters survive, making it difficult to judge the actual extent of their friendship. It is, however, fair to say, that this has probably been underestimated. A handful of letters written by Southey to Dyer from later periods do exist. Dyer’s close connections with Southey’s literary circle are evidenced in a letter sent to him by Joseph Cottle, 22 April 1797 now in the Houghton Library (Autograph File: Cottle, Joseph).

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