W.H. Dawson was educated at Manchester Grammar School and worked in his father's business before emigrating to Tasmania where he remained for the rest of his life. He initially worked as an articled clerk with J. B. Walker, then as an accountant with Young and Walker before working in the same capacity with the legal firm Dobson Mitchell and Allport for thirty-four years. Dawson was active in the intellectual and social life of Hobart, being a member of the Minerva Club and the Home Reading Association. He supported the move for Federation, and his patriotism was evident in his literary responses to the Boer War and World War. As 'Obiter Dicta' he contibuted to Walch's Literary Intelligencer.
Dawson wrote the words for "Songs of Welcome", which were set to music by T. Julian Haywood to commemorate a visit to Tasmania by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in 1901. Two of his poems were set to music to celebrate Federation: "The Star of Australia" (1899) and "The Sons of Australia" (1901).