Davies, W.H. (William Henry), 1871-1940

Alternative names
Birth 1871-07-03
Death 1940-09-26

Biographical notes:

Welsh-born English poet who lived the life of a tramp in England and the U.S. until about 1905 and then devoted himself to writing.

From the description of W. H. Davies untitled poem, [manuscript], n.d. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 247516960

English poet and novelist.

From the description of W. H. Davies letter to Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch [manuscript] June 27, 1905. (Ohio University). WorldCat record id: 12982686

W. H. Davies (1871-1940) was a Welsh poet, writer and traveler around the United States and United Kingdom. Davies personally financed the printing of his first book The Soul's Destroyer in 1905 at a cost of £19. The book was generally ignored. Desperate for money, Davies compiled a list of prominent persons, and wrote to each sending a copy to the book and a request for financial assistance.

From the guide to the W. H. Davies letter to Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, June 27, 1905, (Ohio University)

Welsh poet and writer.

From the description of Thunderstorms : autograph manuscript of the poem signed : place not specified, 1914 May 15. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270539175

Epithet: poet

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001149.0x0001b7

W.H. Davies was an English poet and novelist. The University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections has a mandate to acquire literary papers.

From the description of W.H. Davies fonds. [1921-1936]. (University of Victoria Libraries). WorldCat record id: 667848427

Author W.H. Davies was born in Wales, and grew up in impoverished and often troubled circumstances. Restless and unsettled, he travelled to America, where he worked odd jobs and panhandled until he lost a leg in a train accident and returned to London. He self-published a book of poetry in 1905 that came to the attention of George Bernard Shaw and Edward Thomas, who sponsored Davies' next effort, the successful memoir Autobiography of a Supertramp, with editorial assistance from Thomas and a preface by Shaw. Davies continued to develop a successful writing career, alternating between novels and poetry; his work is distinguished by simple, direct lyricism and fueled by his fresh, almost naive outlook.

From the description of W.H. Davies manuscript poem and broadside poem, circa 1919. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 64190350

British poet and writer William Henry Davies (1871-1940) drew inspiration from his travels. His Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908) told of his experiences begging, picking fruit, and tramping through the United States. His life as a tramp led to the loss of his leg, as he tried to hop a train on his way to the Klondike in search of gold. Davies' The True Traveller (1912) and The Adventures of Johnny Walker, Tramp (1926) are both semi-autobiographical. After initial rejections by several publishers, Davies' poetry was published by C.A. Watt's and Co. and later gained the support of George Bernard Shaw and others.

Thomas Moult (1893-1974), British critic and novelist known for his compilations of poetry, included a number of Davies' poems in his Georgian Poetry (1920) and authored W.H. Davies, a biography published in 1934.

From the guide to the William Henry Davies Letter to Mr. [Thomas] Moult (MS 152), 1919, (University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries. Special Collections Dept.)


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  • Male authors, English--20th century--Poetry
  • Authors, English--20th century--Correspondence
  • English literature--20th century
  • Poets, English--20th century--Correspondence


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