|Born||13 January 1846|
|Died||27 December 1913 (aged 67)|
|Education||Master of Arts, Legum Doctor|
|Awards||Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature|
William Edward Armytage Axon (January 13, 1846 - December 27, 1913) was an English librarian, antiquary and journalist for the Manchester Guardian. He contributed to the Dictionary of National Biography under his initials W. E. A. A. He was also a notable vegetarianism activist.
Axon was born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. He was best known as an antiquary and a bibliographer, but his interests were extremely varied. As honorary secretary of the Manchester and Salford Sunday Society he took a prominent part in the agitation for the opening of the Manchester libraries on Sunday. He had begun life as a boy in the Manchester Reference Library, and was early drawn to literary pursuits. Later he wrote much on the folklore and historical associations of Lancashire and Cheshire, and the antiquaries of these counties made him their president. Besides this, as a member of the English Dialect Society he wrote many tales and sketches illustrating the dialect and customs of the county in which he lived. He was also the author of Cobden as a Citizen in 1907. He published his study of Anna Jane Vardill's poem that was a sequel to Coleridge's poem Christabel in 1908. It was claimed that she had not written it but based on new evidence he was able to assure the Royal Society of Literature that the poem had been written by her.
Axon for 30 years was on the literary staff of the Manchester Guardian, and for his general literary work was distinguished by the University of Manchester, which conferred on him the honorary degree of Master of Arts in 1913. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an honorary LL.D. of Wilberforce University, and had contributed articles to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Dictionary of National Biography, American Encyclopædia, and Notes and Queries.
Axon was an ardent vegetarian and member of the Anti-Tobacco League. He has been described as a "leading figure of the vegetarian movement." He was Vice-President and Hon. Secretary of the Vegetarian Society. Axon contributed articles on the history of vegetarianism to John Harvey Kellogg's Good Health journal. He was editor of the Vegetarian Messenger.
Historian Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska has noted that "Axon abhorred cruelty to animals and the degrading work of the 'slaughterman, reeking with blood and striking to death with remorseless blows a creature that shares with him the gift of life".