Davis, Herbert John, 1893-1967

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Professor of Textual Criticism, Oxford, 1956-1960.

From the description of Letters and notes [manuscript]. 1909-1951. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225836358

Smith College President (fourth), 1940-1949. B.A., Oxford, 1914, M.A., 1919. Professor of English, University of Toronto, 1922-1935; Cornell University, 1937-1939. Oxford University, 1949-1960.

From the description of Office of the President Herbert John Davis files, 1940-1949. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 51171629

Smith College President (fourth), 1940-1949. B.A., Oxford, 1914, M.A., 1919. Professor of English, University of Toronto, 1922-1935; Cornell University, 1937-1939. Oxford University, 1950-1960.

From the description of Herbert John Davis personal papers, 1893-1967, (bulk 1939-1940). (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 51214230

Herbert John Davis was born on May 24, 1893 in Northamptonshire, England, where he received his elementary and secondary education. He later attended Oxford University (St. John's College) from which he graduated in 1914. He then served in France and Belgium during WWI and in 1919 he returned to Oxford to earn his A.M. In 1922, Davis married Gertrude Lucas of Opladen, Rheinland, Germany but she died tragically just six years later. In 1930, Davis married Gladys Wookey of Toronto and the couple had two daughters, Charlotte Elisabeth Ann and Jane.

In 1920, Davis acquired a position at the University of Leeds where he taught for two years. He then moved to the University of Toronto where he remained for sixteen years. He was hired as an Associate Professor of English, and was later promoted to a full Professor. He also served as chair the English Department at Toronto. In 1938 Davis accepted a position as Chair of the English department at Cornell University.

In 1939, Davis succeeded William Allan Neilson as president of Smith College and he assumed this role for the 1940-1941 school year. Davis served as the fourth president of Smith College until 1949 when he returned to Oxford as a reader in textual criticism. Davis retired from Oxford in 1960.

During his academic career Davis made several notable contributions to academia. Following his passion for poetry and prose, Davis became a world renowned expert on Jonathan Swift and wrote several books on his work including Swift's View of Poetry (1931) and Stella, a Gentlewoman of the Eighteenth Century (1942). The latter is an account of the friendship that existed between Swift and Esther Johnson. Davis also edited the fourteen volume work, The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift (1939-68). Davis' distinguished literary contributions were well recognized and he received several honorary degrees including a Doctorate of Laws from Amherst College in 1940.

In addition to his enthusiasm for the English language, Davis was also extremely socially conscious and particularly concerned with WWII raging overseas. Perhaps his most memorable act of charity was providing a home to five British refugee children for several years during the war. Many of his colleagues and friends followed his lead and opened their doors to children in need. Davis died on March 28, 1967.

From the guide to the Office of the President Herbert John Davis Files RG 32., 1939-1951, (Smith College Archives)

Herbert John Davis was born on May 24, 1893 in Northamptonshire, England, where he received his elementary and secondary education. He later attended Oxford University (St. John's College) from which he graduated in 1914. He then served in France and Belgium during WWI and in 1919 he returned to Oxford to earn his A.M. In 1922, Davis married Gertrude Lucas of Opladen, Rheinland, Germany but she died tragically just six years later. In 1930, Davis married Gladys Wookey of Toronto and the couple had two daughters, Charlotte Elisabeth Ann and Jane.

In 1920, Davis acquired a position at the University of Leeds where he taught for two years. He then moved to the University of Toronto where he remained for sixteen years. Davis was hired as an Associate Professor of English, and later promoted to a full Professor. He also served as Chair of the English department. In 1938, Davis accepted a position as Chair of the English department at Cornell University.

In 1939, Davis succeeded William Allan Neilson as president of Smith College and he assumed this role for the 1940-1941 school year. Davis served as the fourth president of Smith College until 1949 when he returned to Oxford as a reader in textual criticism. Davis retired from Oxford in 1960.

During his academic career, Davis made several notable contributions. Following his passion for poetry and prose, Davis became a world renowned expert on Jonathan Swift and wrote several books on his work including Swift's View of Poetry (1931) and Stella, a Gentlewoman of the Eighteenth Century (1942). The latter is an account of the friendship that existed between Swift and Esther Johnson. Davis also edited the fourteen volume work, The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift (1939-68). Davis' distinguished literary contributions were well recognized and he received several honorary degrees including a Doctorate of Laws from Amherst College in 1940.

In addition to his enthusiasm for the English language, Davis was also extremely socially conscious and particularly concerned with WWII raging overseas. Perhaps his most memorable act of charity was providing a home to five British refugee children for several years during the war. Many of his colleagues and friends followed his lead and opened their doors to children in need. Davis died on March 28, 1967.

  • 1893: Born on May 24, at Long Buckby, Northamponshire, England. Son of Carter and Martha Ann (Sheldon) Davis.
  • 1905: Educated at Northampton Grammar School.
  • 1911: St. John's College, Oxford.
  • 1912: Pass Moderations (Classics)
  • 1914: B.A.; Honour School of English Language and Literature.
  • 1915: Reading for Anglican Orders, Wells Theological College.
  • 1916 - 1919 : War Service--gunner, R.G.A.; subaltern with 301 Siege Battery, France and Belgium; acting-adjutant, 4th Brigade, R.G.A., Army of Occupation.
  • 1919: M.A., Oxford.
  • 1920: Lecturer in English, University of Leeds.
  • 1922: Associate Professor English, University College, Toronto. Married Gertrude Lucas of Opladen, Rheinland, Germany.
  • 1924 - 1925 : Guest Professor in the University of Cologne, Germany.
  • 1925 - 1935 : Professor of English, University College, Toronto. Elected Chairman of the Department of English, University of Toronto.
  • 1928: Gertrude Lucas Davis died.
  • 1930: Married Gladys Wookey of Toronto. Children--Charlotte Elisabeth Ann Davis (Falconer) and Jane Davis (Knowles).
  • 1937: Appointed Professor of English at Cornell University; granted leave of absence for one year in England. Frederic Ives Carpenter Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago, summer quarter.
  • 1938: Chairman of the Department of English, Cornell University.
  • 1939: Appointed Goldwin Smith Professor of English Literature at Cornell University.
  • 1940: Accepts position as fourth President of Smith College; L.L.D. from Amherst College.
  • 1949: Leaves Smith College; Returns to Oxford to teach English.
  • 1960: Retires from Oxford.
  • 1967: March 28, 1967--Died.

From the guide to the Herbert John Davis Personal Papers RG 32., 1893-1973, (Smith College Archives)

Herbert John Davis was an English professor and writer. He was born on May 24, 1893 to Carter Davis and Martha Ann Sheldon. He was married twice and had two daughters from his second wife. Davis taught at such institutions as: University College, Toronto, Cornell University, University of Chicago and University of Minnesota. Between 1940 and 1949, Davis was president of Smith College. He was joint editor of the Oxford Bibliographical Society from 1951 to 1960. His literary works include: Swift's View on Poetry (1931), Satire of Jonathan Swift (1946), and Complete Prose Works of Jonathan Swift (14 vols. 1938-1963). He died on Mar. 28, 1967.

Paul M. Zall is a retired English educator and consultant. He was born on Aug. 3, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. In 1948, Zall married Elisabeth Weisz and had 3 sons. The schools he taught at include: Harvard University (1950-51), Cornell University (1951-55), and California State College, Los Angeles (1957-86). His literary works include: Elements of Technical Report Writing (1962), Ben Franklin Laughing (1980), Wit and Wisdom of the Founding Fathers (1996), and Jefferson on Jefferson (2002).

From the description of Letter to Paul M. Zall, 1966. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 122593944

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Comstock, Ada Louise. person
associatedWith Comstock, Ada Louise. person
correspondedWith Eccles, Mary Hyde. person
associatedWith Hayward, John, 1905-1965. person
associatedWith Herbert John Davis person
associatedWith Morrow, Elizabeth, 1873-1955 person
associatedWith Neilson, William Allan, 1869-1946 person
associatedWith Professor Herbert John Davis person
associatedWith Smith College corporateBody
associatedWith Smith College. Office of President. corporateBody
associatedWith Smith College. Office of President. corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, David Nichol, 1875-1962 person
associatedWith Swift, Jonathan, 1667-1745 person
associatedWith Zall, Paul M., person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Occupation
Scholars
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Person

Birth 1893-05-24

Death 1967-03-28

Britons

English

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