Davenport, Basil, 1905-1966

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Reared in Louisville, Kentucky, Basil Davenport was the eldest of two sons born to Ira William and Emily Andrews (Davison) Davenport. A slim and personable aesthete, he never married. At the Taft School he suffered from homesickness, but won distinction as an editor of the school's literary magazine, debater and thespian. At Yale he continued these pursuits and took up boxing before graduating in 1926. Then he studied classics for two years at Oxford and taught Greek tor a year at Rutgers after returning to this country.

From childhood Davenport cultivated a facility for storytelling, especially the genre of tale associated with campfires. This proclivity delighted both his peers and his elders, and subsequently it led to his numerous anthologies, especially: Ghostly tales to be told; a collection of stories from the great masters, arranged for reading and telling aloud (1950) and Tales to be told in the dark; a selection of stories from the great authors, arranged for reading and telling aloud (1953). Other notable anthologies were: The Portable Roman Reader (1951) and The Selected Works of Stephen Vincent Benét (1942). His translations of Rostand's L'Aiglon (issued by the Yale Press in 1927) and Aeschylus The Oresteia were performed at Yale during his Freshman and Senior years respectively. Two original works were: An Inquiry Into Science Fiction (1955) and An Introduction to Islandia (1942).

After his year at Rutgers he settled in New York, contributing book reviews and feature articles to The Saturday Review of Literature and performing similar services for the Book-of-the-Month Club News . From 1936 until his death, he was associated with the latter organization, first as Editorial Assistant and from 1956-1966 as one of the five judges, at whose monthly meetings the final selections were voted.

His virtually inexhaustible store of classical and literary lore served him well on various quiz programs, notably "Down You Go." Unfortunately it was scratched soon after he joined it, due to scandals precipitated when other programs were exposed as "fixed."

From the guide to the Basil Davenport papers, 1899-1964, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Vonnegut mss., 1941-2007 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly
referencedIn Book-of-the-Month Club. Book-of-the-Month Club records, 1946-1979. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Benét, Stephen Vincent, 1898-1943. [Letter] 1934 July 17, Peace Dale, R.I. [to] Basil Davenport, Pemaquid Point, Me. / Steve [i.e. Stephen Vincent Benét]. Texas Tech University Libraries, Academic Library
referencedIn Book-of-the-Month Club records, 1946-1979 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Baker Street Irregulars (Organization : U.S.) archive, 1923-2007. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Book-of-the-Month Club Records, 1939-1967, (bulk 1939-1960) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn White mss., 1932-1969 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Book-of-the-Month Club. Book-of-the-Month Club records, 1939-1967. Library of Congress
referencedIn John Mason Brown papers, 1922-1967. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Davenport, Basil, 1905-1966. Basil Davenport papers, ca. 1899?-1964. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Thompson, Ralph, 1904-. Papers, 1944-1956. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Ciardi, John, 1916-1986. Letters, 1952-1955, to J. Vernon Shea, Jr. University of Michigan
creatorOf Dumas, Alexandre, 1802-1870. Isaac Laquedem / by Alexandre Dumas ; translated by F. W. Reed. University of Manchester Library, Main Library
creatorOf Basil Davenport papers, 1899-1964 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Davenport, Basil, 1905-1966. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1947. University of Pennsylvania Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Baker Street Irregulars (Organization : U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Belknap, Julia Pritte, d. 1948 person
associatedWith Benét, Rosemary, 1900-1962 person
associatedWith Benét, Stephen Vincent, 1898-1943. person
associatedWith Benét, William Rose, 1886-1950 person
associatedWith Book-of-the-Month Club. corporateBody
associatedWith Boucher, Anthony, 1911-1968 person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
associatedWith Cerf, Bennett, 1898-1971 person
associatedWith Ciardi, John, 1916-1986. person
associatedWith Crowninshield, Frank, 1872-1947 person
associatedWith Davenport, Christopher William, 1938- person
associatedWith Davenport, Emily Andrews Davison, 1874-1962 person
associatedWith Davenport family. family
associatedWith Davenport, Gwen Farquharson, 1910- person
associatedWith Davenport, Ira William, 1863-1938 person
associatedWith Davenport, John Andrews, 1910- person
associatedWith Davenport, John Farquharson, 1940- person
associatedWith Davison, Ellen Scott, d. 1921 person
associatedWith Dumas, Alexandre, 1802-1870. person
associatedWith Fadiman, Clifton, 1904-1999 person
associatedWith Holden, R. J. (Raymond J.), 1901- person
associatedWith Loveman, Amy. person
associatedWith Markham, Edwin, 1852-1940 person
associatedWith Pratt, Fletcher, 1897-1956 person
associatedWith Thompson, Ralph, 1904- person
associatedWith Vonnegut, Kurt person
associatedWith Woolley, Monty, 1888-1963 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Translators--United States--20th century
Editors--United States--20th century--Archives
Authors, American--20th century--Archives


Birth 1905

Death 1966


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